Comcast launched a new free feature on Monday allowing disabled viewers to change the channel using their eyes.
Using “Xfinity X1 eye control,” a web-based remote that pairs with existing eye gaze technology, viewers can change the channel, set recordings and search for shows. The new service is aiming to help customers with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and other ailments that make mundane tasks like changing the channel a major hurdle for millions of users. Citing U.S. Census data, Comcast said 48 million Americans are living with physical or mobility issues.
“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,” Tom Wlodkowski, vice president of Accessibility at Comcast, said in a 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.”
The company released a promo video with 30-year-old Philadelphia resident Jimmy Curran, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, to highlight the new service. “I don’t need to depend on others to use the remote and that is a liberating feeling,” Curran said. “Technology is enabling me to be more independent.”
To enable the eye control system, Xfinity customers can visit xfin.tv/access; after set up, the web-based remote control will be highlighted on the television whenever the customer looks at it moving forward. Viewers can use the service to type out certain movies or genres they’re looking for as well.