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The visually impaired can now watch Comcast TV channels on VR goggles

For years, those who are blind, or legally blind because of visual impairment, have relied on described video soundtracks while watching TV. Now, thanks to a partnership between Comcast and a company called NuEyes, another option exists. Comcast’s Xfinity Stream app now comes preinstalled on the NuEyes e2, an AR/VR magnifying device that enhances the usable vision of a person who is visually impaired. It looks like Google’s now-defunct Daydream VR goggles, but it’s an all-in-one device that doesn’t require the use of a smartphone.

Conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinitis pigmentosa can all contribute to serious vision impairment. “Being blind since birth, I know firsthand the power of technology to enhance independence,” Comcast vice president of accessibility Tom Wlodkowski said in a press release. “Our partnership with NuEyes is an extension of our commitment to designing great entertainment experiences for people of all abilities.”

When using the Xfinity Stream app to watch live TV and on-demand content via the NuEyes e2, those with visual impairments can take advantage of the special features built-in to the headset. It has a 101-degree field of view and three color and contrast settings, including a high-contrast black and white setting. It can also magnify what people see by up to 18x. Those features may not seem like a big deal to someone with unimpaired vision. But for those who struggle to see things clearly, it can be a game-changer.

Neural adaptation is something we all use to process the world visually. For the visually impaired, that neural adaptation can be severely hindered because of factors like ambient light, poor contrast, and the relative size of the object or content they’re trying to see. The NuEyes e2 optimize the viewing experience by reducing or eliminating these factors, which is often enough to help people do something as simple as watching a favorite TV show.

A simplified user interface makes navigating the Xfinity Stream guide easier by doing away with complex menus and increasing the size and readability of buttons and other UI elements. Audio feedback helps the user know their actions affect what’s happening on-screen.

When users aren’t streaming content using the built-in apps, they can use the device as a magnifying device, via the forward-facing 8MP camera which projects video onto the internal 3K LCD displays. If it proves tiring to read text via the screen, users can choose to switch to an optical character recognition mode which will read text aloud for them instead.

Those who think they might benefit from the NuEyes system can arrange to have a free in-home consultation.

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Simon Cohen
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