Voice control of televisions has been a feature available from some providers for a few years. Now Comcast is adding a new way to change channels. Comcast Eye Control enables people with physical disabilities such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or spinal cord injuries the ability to navigate their television using only their eyes. Users will be able to set recordings or search via X1 eye control.
According to Comcast, more than 48 million people in the U.S. live with physical or mobility disabilities and every day about 15 people are newly diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. These disabilities can often make seemingly everyday tasks more difficult.
X1 eye control is free and uses a web page remote control that works with existing eye gaze hardware and software, Sip-and-Puff switches and other assistive technologies. Customers 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 television.
“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, in a prepared statement. “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.”
“We are pleased to see how Comcast continues to make their products and solutions accessible,” said Tara Rudnicki, president North America for Tobii Dynavox, a provider of touch and eye tracking assistive technology hardware and software, in a prepared statement. “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.”