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Watch This—You Can Control Xfinity X1 with Just Your Eyes

When watching TV, voice control can be a real convenience, whether it’s via Alexa, Google Assistant, or even with Comcast’s Xfinity remote. But for people who can’t use their hands or voice, though, navigating a television’s interface is much more difficult, if not impossible.

Comcast is rolling out a new service with fully disabled people in mind. Its new X1 eye control feature is essentially a web page that mimics the X1 remote, but can be controlled using any number of existing technologies, such as Tobii eye trackers or sip-and-puff switches.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Because the web-based remote has all the same buttons, you can do everything you could do with the X1’s physical remote, including play/pause, rewind, accessing the DVR, and controlling any apps that have been paired with the cable box, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. You can also use the web-based remote to search for content by title, genre, and more.

We had a chance to check out the eye control interface ahead of its launch today (June 17); After configuring the Tobii eye tracking software to our eyes, an on-screen cursor would follow our eyes as we looked around the screen. When we paused on a particular button, a square would magnify the area, confirming that was the button we wanted to press. Then, the command would be sent to the TV.

Obviously, it takes a bit longer than pressing a button or speaking a command — especially if you want to type in the name of a show, for instance — but otherwise, it seemed to work well in the demo.

X1’s eye control is a free feature rolling out to Comcast customers today. While it will only be useful to a small subset of the company’s customers, it’s still a welcome addition. Hopefully other streaming device and smart TV makers will follow suit.

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide. He oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories, but also tests out the latest standing desks, webcams, drones, and electric scooters. He has worked at Tom's Guide for many a year; before that, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight or chagrin of his family.