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Comcast X1 Finds Its Voice

Mari Silbey
5/30/2013

Comcast Corp. has launched a new voice control feature for its X1 Remote iPhone app, making it easier for subscribers to tap into the next-gen IP video program guide that it is now rolling out throughout the U.S. Using simple voice commands, iPhone users can search for content, change channels and browse VoD categories on the X1 platform. Comcast said it is working on similar functionality for Android phones and "traditional" remote controls. The new voice control interface runs on Comcast's OpenStack cloud infrastructure, which the MSO worked closely with Cisco Systems Inc. to build. Last month, Comcast Senior Vice President Mark Muehl demonstrated the Comcast platform at the OpenStack Summit and touted new X1 features such as enhanced search, embedded movie reviews and an advanced sports app listing the broadcast channel for any on-air game. (See Comcast Opens Up on OpenStack.) In a prepared statement, Comcast Senior Vice President Charlie Herrin again highlighted the importance of the OpenStack environment for interface innovations. "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," Herrin added. At the Cable Show in two weeks' time, Comcast is expected to unveil the next iteration of its X1 program guide, currently dubbed X2. It has now launched the X1 in at least 10 markets, with plans to cover half of its service footprint by the end of June and the other half by the end of the year. Comcast won't be the only company demonstrating interface updates at the Cable Show, however. Expect vendors of all stripes to be showing off their HTML5 wares, while Hillcrest Labs will promote a motion-control interface built on the Comcast RDK software stack. (See Hillcrest Snags Comcast RDK License.) For a look at the new X1 voice control feature today, see this video from Comcast. — Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable

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