Comcast Eyes Disability Market With New Remote Tech

Finding new ways to tap into under-served segments of the video marketplace, Comcast has introduced a new technology for consumers who lack the ability to change the channel on their TV remote.

The cable operator has enabled a new feature that lets users control their X1 video service with their eyes.

Comcast's eye-driven X1 remote-control interface.

Comcast's eye-driven X1 remote-control interface.

The web-based system pairs with the set-top and allows the user to access a virtual, onscreen numerical and directional interface, via tablet or PC, controlling it with their gaze.

Users can change the channel, launch the guide, search for content and set recordings without assistance. They can also use eye control to set up Voice Control shortcuts.

“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,” Comcast vice president of accessibility Tom Wlodkowski said. “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.”

Comcast specifically noted that individuals with spinal injuries or conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can benefit from the service. Setting up the feature, however, won’t be cheap.

Comcast said it doesn’t charge anything to connect an eye-control remote to the X1 interface. However, customers must acquire eye-tracking hardware and software.

“Many people with these types of physical disabilities already have some type of adaptive device to control laptops and tablets and our eye control web remote basically works on top of that existing software and hardware,” a Comcast spokesperson said.

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!