Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has launched a feature to give people with physical disabilities such as spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) the ability to navigate their TV set using only their eyes. Xfinity X1 eye control is a web-based remote for tablets and computers that pairs with an existing eye gaze system to allow viewers to change the channel, set a recording, search for a show and other functions.
"Changing the channel on a TV is something most of us take for granted, but until now, it was a near-impossible task for millions of viewers," said Tom Wlodkowski, vice president of accessibility at Comcast. "When you make a product more inclusive, you create a better experience for everyone, and we're hoping our new X1 feature makes a real difference in the lives of our customers."
X1 eye control is free and uses a web page remote control that works with eye gaze hardware and software, Sip-and-Puff switches and other assistive technologies. To make X1 eye control work, Xfinity customers can visit xfin.tv/access and use their credentials to pair the web-based remote with their set-top-box. From that point forward, each time the customer gazes at a button, the web-based remote sends the corresponding command to the TV set.
"We are pleased to see how Comcast continues to make their products and solutions accessible," said Tara Rudnicki, president North America Tobii Dynavox, a provider of touch and eye tracking assistive technology hardware and software. "As an assistive technology company, we want to empower our users to live independent lives. With the X1 eye control now enabled with eye gaze, it will come to great use for many of them."
With X1 eye control, customers can:
- Change the channel, launch the guide, search for content, set a recording and other functions without assistance
- Turn on the X1 Ports App
- Access X1's Accessibility menu which controls closed captioning, video description and voice guidance
- Use their gaze to type out voice commands like "watch NBC" or "action movies"
"Comcast knows that TV and media access is a powerful part of life for most people," said David Dikter, CEO, Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA). "That X1 can now be used with eye gaze and an array of other assistive technologies shows a new level of commitment to access and independence for persons with disabilities. A company that understands that users have their own specialized technology and works to bridge these technologies in a way that delivers value, deserves applause."