New AT&T U-verse App Turns Apple Devices Into Voice-enabled Remote Control
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
AT&T rolled out a new app on Wednesday that lets U-verse subscribers control their TVs through voice and hand gestures on Apple devices.
The U-verse Easy Remote App, which is available as a free download from Apple’s iTunes store, works by connecting a user’s iPhone or iPad to their U-verse TV receiver over a home Wi-Fi network.
“AT&T U-verse is the first major TV provider to allow customers to use voice remote control capabilities,” AT&T said in its announcement.
Once installed, the app lets subscribers control their TVs with simple voice commands such as ‘channel up’, ‘rewind’, and ‘record’, or through touch gestures like swiping left or right on an iPad or iPhone screen to change the channel.
Subscribers can also select the program they want to watch by speaking the title or channel number into their Apple device.
The new app comes with VoiceOver screen reader software, which reads aloud title and channel information as viewers surf through the programming guide. Support for gesture commands and one-touch access to closed captioning is also supported.
The voice control functions of the Easy Remote app are powered by AT&T’s Watson speech recognition technology, which uses “advanced natural language processing to recognize and understand spoken words,” AT&T said.
Using this technology, users can simply say the name of a specific TV show or channel they wish to watch.
“Tell the system what you want and it will find it for you,” said Juergen Schroeter, executive director of AT&T research, in a video about the new app.
“You speak, it gives you an answer, you select it, and done.”
The Watson speech recognition technology has been powering advanced speech services in the marketplace for many years, and is now available for third-party developers to use in their own apps.
AT&T said its Easy Remote App was specifically designed for people with physical disabilities, such as vision or hearing loss, and can be customized with different screen colors, buttons and font size settings to meet the needs of all users.
“Most Americans rely on their television as a critical source of news and entertainment and it is important that these resources be made accessible for all users,” said Larry Goldberg, director of WGBH’s Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media.
“It is great to see an app like Easy Remote apply many of the universal design features that improve access for customers both with and without disabilities.”