Brand Killer

They blur out commercial logos like explicit material on the TV.

Finally, a way to defeat Dr. Zizmor and his ubiquitous skin-care ads: a pair of high-tech glasses that recognizes advertising around you, and blurs it out 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:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Solutions

    ‘Fairbnb’ Wants to Be the Unproblematic Alternative to Airbnb

    The vacation rental industry is mired in claims that it harms neighborhoods and housing markets. Can a nonprofit co-op make the tourist trend a community asset?

  2. Design

    How I. M. Pei Shaped the Modern City

    The architect, who died yesterday at the age of 102, designed iconic modern buildings on prominent sites around the world. Here are some that delight and confound CityLab.

  3. Tourists walk along the High Line in Manhattan, New York City
    Life

    The Beauty Premium: How Urban Beauty Affects Cities’ Economic Growth

    A study finds that the more beautiful a city is, the more successful it is at attracting jobs and new residents, including highly educated and affluent ones.

  4. A photo of shoppers in the central textile market of downtown Jakarta.
    Design

    How Cities Design Themselves

    Urban planner Alain Bertaud’s new book, Order Without Design, argues that cities are really shaped by market forces, not visionaries.

  5. Design

    An Illustrated History of New York City’s Playgrounds

    There are more than 2,000 playgrounds spread across New York City. Ariel Aberg-Riger explores the creative and political history of concrete jungle’s jungle gyms.