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Comcast gives a voice to X1 Remote app

Thu, 05/30/2013 - 12:29pm
Mike Robuck

Comcast subscribers that live in the areas where the cable operator’s next generation X1 platform has been deployed can now bark orders at their TVs by using Comcast’s X1 Remote app.

The update to the X1 Remote app, which was first launched last year, lets Comcast X1 customers change channels by saying the network name, or search for program titles, sports teams and actors by speaking into their iPhone microphones. Users can also browse various categories in the Xfinity On Demand menu by using voice commands.

The voice commands allow users to perform content and navigation functions on their guides by saying things like “When is the next Phillies game?" or "Show me all action movies on HBO."

When it comes to tying in traditional TV services to second-screen devices, Comcast has been an early adopter. Three years ago at The Cable Show Comcast CEO Brian Roberts demonstrated an iPad that functioned as a remote control. The voice commands on the X1 Remote app are the latest example of how Comcast is uniting traditional TV screens with mobile devices.

A spokeswoman for Comcast said the voice commands on the app were built on a modular architecture that included some solutions that were developed internally in Comcast Labs and some unnamed third-party capabilities.

"Voice control on the X1 Remote App is one of the ways we’re continuing to change the dynamic of the traditional remote control while providing a seamless experience between the TV and customers’ devices," said Charlie Herrin, senior vice president of Product Design and Development for Comcast Cable. "This feature lets customers get to the content they want to watch in fewer steps than it would take with a traditional remote control by simply saying what they want to do instead of translating that into a series of remote control button presses.

“The X1 platform we’ve built and cloud services on our network are enabling us to deliver innovative, real-time updates like this to consumers faster than ever."

While the current version of the voice control app only works with iPhones, Comcast said engineers and developers at Comcast Labs were cooking up voice control features for Android phones and for traditional remote controls.

Comcast’s X1 platform combines cloud-based navigation, personalization and search functions, and an interactive programming guide with customized apps and social media features.

After a trial in Augusta, Ga., two years ago, Comcast first launched its X1 platform in Boston, and currently has it deployed in 10 markets including Atlanta, Augusta, Ga., Chattanooga, Tenn., Philadelphia, parts of New Jersey, parts of Colorado, Washington, D.C.; and the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Fresno, Stockton and Santa Barbara, Calif. Comcast said more deployments were forthcoming this year as it plans to have X1 rolled out across its entire footprint by the end of the year. 

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