Innovative technology can help give the disabled more independence. For example, there is an exo-suit that helps stroke patients gain mobility. Samsung, meanwhile, has been working on a product that would let people control their TVs with their minds.
Now, a new service allows the seriously disabled to control their own televisions with their eyes. The service was created specifically for those confined to wheelchairs who are unable to use their hands or voice.
Developed by Comcast, the Xfinity X1 service will allow the company’s disabled customers to turn on their TVs, change channels and even request specific programs by simply moving their eyes.
Xfinity X1 works with existing technology
Those who want to use Comcast’s new service will not have to buy special hardware or software to make Xfinity X1 work. In a press release, Comcast said the free service runs alongside whatever eye-tracking device, voice-control software or switch control the viewer is using.
Xfinity X1 is a web page remote control that runs on tablets and computers. It pairs up with a special X1 TV box available only to disabled customers. Because the web page remote cannot be used without the X1 TV box, it maintains the disabled user’s privacy and does not pose a security concern to Comcast customers who are not disabled.
People confined to wheelchairs who cannot use their hands or speak, communicate through a letter board. An eye-tracking device highlights a specific letter on the board the user looks at in order to spell out words.
Xfinity X1 utilizes the same technology. With their eyes, the disabled can turn on the TV, change channels, search for programs, set up a recording and more.
Xfinity X1 also provides TV viewing independence for those who can speak but cannot use their hands to manually operate a remote control.
One user’s ‘liberating’ experience
In announcing the new service, Comcast also released a video that showed how one disabled customer already is taking advantage of Xfinity X1.
Philadelphia resident Jimmy Curran has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which has left him wheelchair-bound. He can speak but he is unable to use his hands.
“When I have company, we’ll be watching something,” Curran said. “And then when they leave, I’m stuck watching whatever has been left on the TV.”
Curran was one of the first customers to get the new X1 web remote. Curran tries to live as independently as possible. He can now add controlling his own TV to the list of things he can do by himself.
“Going forward, this technology will allow me to operate the TV on my own,” he said. “I don’t need to rely on others to use the remote and that is a liberating feeling.”