Eye-Tracking Tech Makes TV Accessible for the Physically Disabled

Comcast has rolled out a web-based remote control for its Xfinity X1 cable platform that uses eye-tracking technology to make TV accessible for people with physical disabilities that prevent them from using a traditional remote control.

The interface is displayed on a tablet and enables the viewer to change channels, search for a show or genre, set a recording, and navigate menus by gazing at buttons on the screen. In its most basic form, the system uses a light source to illuminate the viewer’s eyes while image sensors pick up reflections from the cornea and pupil and send commands to the cable box as the viewer moves his eyes around the screen.

Jimmy Curran, a Philadelphia resident who is afflicted with a neuromuscular disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, was one of the first people to use the new eye-tracking remote control.

“Technology is enabling me to be more independent,” he said in a video, which provides a glimpse into his life and shows how the system is helping him. “It allows me to utilize my eyes to operate the remote on a tablet. I don’t need to depend on others to use the remote and that is a liberating feeling.”

To use the new web-based eye-tracking remote, the viewer must sign in and link the remote to their Xfinity X1 cable account.

Comcast anticipates that the technology will improve the TV experience for millions of people with physical disabilities.