Comcast showed its kinder, gentler nature with two product introductions Tuesday at the INTX 2015 Internet and cable trade show - one content-based, the other a hardware refinement.
Kids Zone, newly launched on X1 boxes, aims to be Mom and Dad's best helper. Combining ratings and reviews from Common Sense Media with filtering fine-tuned to your child (or children's) age range and development level, the Kids Zone menu sorts and reveals only movies and TV shows that are appropriate and nourishing for the young ones. That includes live content, recordings, and just the right stuff from nearly 8,500 kids' movies and TV shows available on Xfinity on Demand.
"We created an experience that gives the kids the chance to watch TV independently but also gives parents peace of mind," said Jennifer Metz, director of product management at Comcast Cable. "This is a first of its kind for our industry."
For safety's sake, Kids Zone also disables certain features of the X1 platform, like channel up/channel down buttons, the ability to purchase and rent programming, and certain voice commands that might take the kids out of their secure walled garden.
While still being finessed, a "beta" (test) version of Kids Zone is available now to turn on through the Comcast Labs section of the X1 menu.
Voice Command activation of an X1 box has been available for a while as an app on iOS and Android phones. Now it's built into a new Xfinity remote, available to all new and existing X1 customers. Waking up with a single blue-button push and your voice, the device deploys adaptive learning language processing and point-anywhere (radio frequency) signaling for clear and easy connections to the set-top box. The remote is designed to recognize and respond to thousands of questions and requests, from "What's on at 8?" or "When do the Flyers play?" to "Show me kids movies" and "Record Two Broke Girls."
Not coincidentally, the new device also plays nicely with Comcast's (and the cable industry's) first "talking guide" for customers with a visual disability.