Comcast Debuts Xfinity Large Button Voice Remote

Comcast
(Image credit: Comcast)

PHILADELPHIA—In a move that is designed to make it easier for customers with disabilities to access and enjoy content, Comcast is launching the industry’s first Large Button Voice Remote, a new device that is designed for users with mobility, dexterity, or vision impairments. 

The Large Button Voice Remote, which is available to X1 and Flex customers at no additional cost, combines Comcast’s voice control technology with industry-first advancements in accessible hardware design, inclusive packaging, and customer experience. 

The result, Comcast believes, is a hardware breakthrough that allows all viewers to easily navigate and enjoy all the entertainment, news, and information Xfinity has to offer.

“For more than 60 years, Comcast has pioneered advancements in entertainment and connectivity and delivered industry-shaping experiences to customers,” says Fraser Stirling, global chief product officer at Comcast. “Our long-standing commitment to accessibility has unlocked profound innovation across our portfolio time and time again - shaping everything we do from the way we design our products, to the content we create, to the experiences we deliver. Inclusive design, for us, is just better design.”

Comcast said that the new device is built on a deep understanding of consumer preferences and needs and that the Comcast design team worked side-by-side with the disability community to test and refine the creation of its new Large Button Voice Remote. 

Accessibility features and functionality were the top priorities throughout the remote’s development. The result of a rigorous research and design process is a one-of-a-kind remote unlike anything available on the market today—one that combines high functionality with elegant design to offer something for everyone to love, the company said. 

New Horizon’s, Inc., an organization that provides housing and support services for people with physical disabilities participated in the research and testing. Carol Fitzgerald, CEO of New Horizon’s noted that “technology can help level the playing field for people with disabilities. When companies like Comcast design products and experiences with accessibility at the forefront, they not only create better products for everyone, but they also help to unlock more independence for millions of people with disabilities. We’re very proud to have been part of the creation of the Large Button Voice Remote which is truly a game-changing innovation.”

Key features the operator reported include: 

  • Easy Navigation. At the heart of the remote is Comcast’s voice control technology. Users can find what they want—and find it faster—using voice commands to change channels, search for shows, get recommendations, and more. The remote also includes a prominent accessibility shortcut button that offers quick, easy connection to personalized X1 and Flex accessibility settings. With this button, users can enable popular accessibility features like Comcast’s Talking Guide, closed captions, large text capabilities, audio description, and more, to suit their needs.
  • Enhanced Visuals. Locating and navigating the Large Button Voice Remote is easier than ever, thanks to its large backlit buttons and high contrast colors. Plus, the increased font size on all the remote’s buttons improves readability.
  • Precision Features. In addition to its enhanced functionality, the Large Button Voice Remote’s physical design provides remarkable ease of use. A removable wrist strap allows for more precise handling and control. An innovative battery compartment features a rubber pull tab design and “press to slide” battery cover making it easier to change batteries. An elevated, flat-back design allows for increased stability when the remote is used on a flat surface like a wheelchair tray or with other assistive devices.
  • Accessible Set-Up. The inclusive packaging for the Large Button Voice Remote uses large typography and tactile features, including braille and an embossed arrow near the package’s opening, to orient users who are visually impaired. The remote comes with an audio guide that automatically begins playing step-by-step instructions upon opening—an industry-first that allows users to pair the remote to their television in less than a minute. The remote also uses haptic vibrations to create a multi-sensory experience that alerts users when pairing is complete.
  • Leveraging Comcast’s Global Technology Platform to Improve Accessibility. The new Large Button Voice Remote leverages voice search technology within Comcast’s global technology platform, enabling customers to easily navigate the interface and discover programming across hundreds of networks and streaming services with just the sound of their voice. Processing more than 40 million commands a day in 5 different languages, Comcast’s global technology platform powers one of the largest and best voice engines for content discovery available anywhere. Combined with the work Comcast announced earlier this year to integrate accessibility features into its next-generation platform architecture, the remote further embeds inclusive design into the ethos of the company, empowering its global teams and the broader development community to create better, more innovative experiences for everyone.

X1 and Flex customers can request a remote, at no additional charge, through Comcast’s Accessibility Support Center, which was one of the nation’s first call centers specifically created to support customers with disabilities, Comcast said. 

Comcast’s Accessibility Support Center now has more than 140 agents specially trained on Comcast products and services, support for third-party assistive devices, and information related to Braille or large print bills. Comcast also offers support in American Sign Language—the fourth most-used language in the United States—through a partnership with Connect Direct, a subsidiary of Communication Service for the Deaf.

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.