Comcast Introduces Voice Controlled TV Remote

Jesus Figueroa

X1 viewers can search, set recordings and get recommendations with natural speech.

Comcast today announced the consumer launch of its new remote control that allows customers to navigate tens of thousands of shows and movies on the X1 platform with their voice.

The new Xfinity remote with voice control lets viewers search for networks, shows and movies; set DVR recordings; get recommendations; navigate Xfinity On Demand and more.

"Say it and see it. It’s that simple," said Sree Kotay, Comcast Cable’s Chief Software Architect. "We want viewers to get to the shows and movies they love quickly, and we’ve built a remote control that’s smart, fast and intuitive. You don’t have to learn a new language or speak like a robot. Just press the blue button, say what you want to watch and it appears on screen. It’s easy, just like watching TV should be."

The Xfinity Remote with voice control recognizes thousands of common commands including things like:

  • Changing the channel: "Watch ESPN"
  • Searching for movies or shows: "The Walking Dead"
  • Browsing Xfinity On Demand: "Show me kids movies"
  • Setting a recording: "Record Saturday Night Live"
  • Finding sports teams, games and events: "When do the Phillies play?"
  • Getting recommendations or seeing what’s popular on TV right now: "What’s trending?"

The remote even recognizes hundreds of popular movie quotes. As an example, saying "Life is like a box of chocolates" will find the movie Forrest Gump.

The voice remote is available to all eligible X1 customers. New customers will get the remote during their installation and existing customers can either go to an Xfinity Store to pick one up for free or order online at (shipping & handling charges may apply).

In addition to voice search, the new remote is backlit for nighttime viewing and uses radio frequency (RF4CE) transmission that lets users point anywhere when channel surfing and store their X1 set-top box in a cabinet or another room.

It also is more ergonomic with contours that comfortably fit in the viewer’s hand. The setup is simple, and X1 customers can program it to control their TV and AV receiver or sound bar in just a few easy steps.

From a technology perspective, the remote records sound from a microphone when the Mic button is held down and then uses voice-over-RF4CE™ ZigBee® technology to compress and transmit that recording over a low bandwidth link to the X1 platform.

Using natural language processing (NLP) coupled with advanced entertainment metadata and relevancy algorithms, X1 easily gets you to what you want.

This device is also another example of Comcast’s commitment to making its products and services more accessible.

The company recently launched the industry’s first "talking guide" for customers with a visual disability, and with the availbaility of this new remote, Comcast has become the only company to elegantly combine "voice in" and "voice out" in one entertainment experience.

"Voice control is a solution for customers with a visual disability or a physical challenge like arthritis," said Tom Wlodkowski, Vice President of Audience, Comcast, who focuses on the usability of the company’s products and services by people with disabilities. "But it’s also empowering for kids, seniors or anyone else who wants a new and easier way to discover content. Voice search is the great equalizer and a terrific complement to our talking guide."

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