US cable company introduces talking TV guides

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Tuesday, 18 November 2014 12:19pm

Comcast, one of the largest cable TV suppliers in America, has introduced the industry’s first ‘voice enabled television interface’, allowing blind and vision impaired customers to easily navigate through program guides and other features.

Television remote control resting on printed TV guide

Called ‘Voice Guidance’ and developed by the Comcast Accessibility Lab, the system will read out the text in the ‘Guide’, ‘Saved’, ‘On Demand’ and ‘Settings’ sections of Comcast’s X1 entertainment platform. It is activated by pressing the ‘A’ for access button twice on the system’s remote control.

"Television is universally loved, and we want everyone to be able to enjoy it," said Brian Roberts, Comcast’s Chairman and CEO, in a media release. "The talking guide feature will enable all of our customers to experience the X1 platform in a new way, and give our blind and visually impaired customers the freedom to independently explore and navigate thousands of shows and movies.”

‘Voice Guidance’ will become available to all X1 customers over the next few weeks. Further improvements are planned for the service, including enabling the user to change the rate of speech.

Comcast’s talking interface resembles the system, also called ‘Voice Guidance’, which has been available on Panasonic TVs in Australia since 2013.

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