Comcast has launched a feature enabling viewers with physical disabilities like spinal cord injuries or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) the ability to navigate their television 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 and allows viewers with a single glance to change the channel, access the DVR or search for programs.
The free service addresses a sizable population of TV viewers. According to Comcast, more than 48 million people in the U.S. have physical or mobility disabilities, and every day about 15 people are newly diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“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 VP 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.”
X1 eye control uses a web page remote control that works seamlessly with existing eye gaze hardware and software, Sip-and-Puff switches and other assistive technologies. After customers pair the web-based remote with their set-top-box, each time they gaze at a button, the web-based remote sends the corresponding command to the television.
”We are pleased to see how Comcast continues to make their products and solutions accessible,” said Tara Rudnicki, President North America Tobii Dynavox, a leading 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.”
Here is a video of Philadelphia resident Jimmy Curran using the new setup: