John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
They blur out commercial logos like explicit material on the TV.
The "Brand Killer" specs are the prototype of University of Pennsylvania students, who built it for a recent hack week on an alleged budget of $80. "What if we lived in a world where consumers were blind to the excesses of corporate branding?" they write on their project site. "Brand Killer is a custom built head mounted display which uses openCV image processing to recognize and block brands and logos from the user's point of view in real time."
In its current state, the product looks like a hunk of electrical innards ripped from a dashboard; people on the street might think its users were hit in the head by falling airplane debris. (PSFK reports the makers might scale it down in the future.) But the important thing is, it works: The device scans the environment for logos stored in a database and quickly blots them with opaque smudges. In billboard-rich environments like Times Square, the result might be like walking with Vaseline smeared over one's eyes. Still, the idea will no doubt appeal to folks who can't stand constantly being pandered to: