INTX keynotes: Roberts debuts X1 voice control, while Powell officially kills the word 'cable'

CHICAGO--Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts used his portion of Tuesday's keynote address at the INTX convention here to introduce--as explosively as possible--the company's highly anticipated Xfinity voice remote. 

Available for free to Comcast subscribers starting Tuesday, the device allows users to search tens of thousands of shows and movies on the X1 platform with their voice. Viewers can search for networks, shows and movies; set DVR recordings; get recommendations; navigate Xfinity On Demand and more.

Demonstrating the new product live on stage, Roberts summoned the Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump by simply asking, "What is that movie that says, 'Life is like a box of chocolates'?"

Next, the large ballroom display showed film star Tom Hanks' age when Roberts simply asked how old he was. Then, to the delight of the packed INTX ballroom, Roberts ordered the system to "Show me the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger."

That brought the big screen one of the explosion scenes from the Universal box office hit Furious 7."

"We're moving on," said Roberts, continuing to hammer home Comcast's messaging campaign in the wake of the failed merger. 

Before engaging in a pointy-headed discussion with media mogul Peter Chernin and MediaLink CEO Michael Kassan, Roberts also showed off new devices integrated into the Xfinity Home Automation product. New partners include August, Automatic, Cuff, Leeo, Lutron, Rachio, SkyBell and Whistle. 

Comcast is also launching Kids Zone, a new X1 feature that offers content rated by Common Sense Media. Roberts also showed of Comcast's new home gateway devices, which will begin rolling out in 2016.

INTX Michael Powell keynote

NCTA President Michael Powell, right, with Kara Swisher, left. (Source: INTX)

Roberts notably did not address a new X1 platform feature that allows subscribers to stream live video captured on their mobile devices to X1 living rooms. However, this innovative feature tied directly to talking points by National Cable & Telecommunications Association President and CEO Michael Powell, who preceded Roberts on stage.

Sitting alongside interviewer Kara Swisher in one of her patented red chairs, Powell said the cable industry is actually competing with "real life," as a younger generation eschews scripted, produced TV video content for live social interaction with their friends and contacts. 

"The first step for the industry was porting content to [mobile] devices," Powell said. "Now, we have to figure out how to be a companion to the self-published, self-created experience of our users."

Powell also talked about the need for the industry to rebrand itself into something else besides "cable," a name he says he "hates."

"Cable has a proud history, but it doesn't fairly capture what we do," he said. 

For more:
- read this Comcast press release
- read this August blog post

Show coverage: INTX Live 2015

Related links:
Comcast giving customer invites to try out new XR11 voice-activated remote
Comcast rolls out more X1 features: IFTTT support, voice guide for visually impaired
NCTA chief Powell on 'unnecessary' net neutrality regs, and Google's unearned popularity

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