Bonnie Cha

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AT&T Launches Voice-Controlled Remote App for U-verse TV

In season five of “30 Rock,” Alec Baldwin’s character, Jack Donaghy, introduced a voice-controlled TV remote that — though hilarious — didn’t work too well. But maybe AT&T can get it right.

Today, the company introduced a new mobile app that allows AT&T U-verse TV customers to operate their TVs via voice and gesture controls using iPhone or iPad.

Available for free from the iTunes store, the U-verse Easy Remote App uses AT&T’s Watson speech-recognition technology to recognize and understand spoken words, and can even learn different accents and an individual’s speech patterns for better accuracy.

With the technology, you’ll now be able to control your U-verse TV by giving simple voice commands such as channel up, replay, or record, or by saying the name of a TV show or channel number. You can also use touch gestures, such as swiping left or right or up and down to change channels and adjust volume.

But the app wasn’t designed just for a nation of couch potatoes. AT&T developed U-verse Easy Remote in part to help those with hearing and vision impairments and physical disabilities. It offers adjustable font sizes, and the app will also read out show titles and channel information as you scroll through the programming guide.

AT&T actually began working on the app back in August 2011, and sought input from a panel of experts in assistive technology, aging and disability issues.

Though U-verse Easy Remote is currently only available for iOS devices, AT&T said its ultimate goal is to offer the app to all customers, regardless of operating system.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald