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New web-based remote promises to change TV viewing for people with disabilities

June 24, 2019

American company Comcast has launched a new web-based remote that will make TV viewing a hassle-free experience for people with mobility related issues. The remote can be fitted onto tablets and computers and functions with the user’s eye movements.

For non-disabled people, changing TV channels is a breeze. All you need to do is pick up the remote and keep surfing until you find a channel you like.

However, for people with certain types of disabilities, especially those related to mobility, it’s not quite that easy. Comcast, an American company, is out to change that with a web-based TV remote that can be fitted onto tablets and computers.

With this remote, users can change channels, record shows, and even search for shows using their eyes.

It’s not clear when this remote will be launched in India but many people with disabilities are interested in knowing more about it, especially the cost factor.

Ahmedabad-based law student Maitreya Shah, who is a visually impaired person, says the remote would be useful for everyone, disabled or not.

Usually when I come across conversations about assistive technologies, I have only heard people talk about talking TV and stuff like that. Something like an eye-controlled device to change channels is quite unheard of. People with restricted functioning, cerebral palsy, or those who are paralysed are definitely going to benefit from this. So Comcast has launched something truly inclusive. Even elderly people can use this effectively. - Maitreya Shah, Disability Rights Activist

Users can pair the Comcast device with their set-top boxes. Then, they have to gaze at a button which will send commands to their TV sets. There’s another option available as well which is for users to type out voice commands depending on their choices.

The remote has been tested among some users in the United States and has received a positive feedback.

Priya Bhargava, who is a wheelchair user, is happy to see mainstream brands come up with products that are inclusive and cater to the needs of people with disabilities.

“I always appreciate efforts taken for people with disabilities, says Priya, who is a beauty pageant winner and motivational speaker. Companies must work towards creating or designing cheaper equipment and technology that can be used by disabled people in their daily lives of disabled people. Like an electric light and or fan switch that can be switched on or off with a blink or voice. Something like that could benefit thousands of people with disabilities.

An eye-controlled remote may appear to serve a small group of customers but more accessibility tech solutions like these will hopefully drive more brands to think about inclusive design.

ALSO READ: Chatbot Mera Mitra aims to be the personal companion for all things to do with disability in India



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