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‘Brand Killer’ hackathon creation lets you blur brands out of reality

We’re constantly bombarded with marketing materials from big names; while out in the street, watching TV, when browsing the web and even from within the humble smartphone app, but what if there was a way to block it all out? Would you try it?

I’ve seen brands like Coca Cola and Vodafone appear on everything from billboards in central London to the side of corrugated metal shacks in the hills of Darjeeling and at times it can be a little disheartening. Trying to escape excessive marketing can be tough, particularly in developed countries where opportunities to push brand names, slogans and logos in your face are rife.

As a result of PennApps’ most recent hackathon however, a team of four computer engineers paired a 7-inch display, a camera, some circuitry, goggles and some homebrew software to create what looks like an Oculus Rift of sorts. In practice however, this wearable headset, dubbed the ‘Brand Killer’ analyses the user’s field of vision and adds a blurred box over any recognised brand logos, from Coca Cola bottles to Starbucks cups.

Whilst AdBlock and other plugins of this ilk work well for muting digital marketing noise within your web browser, this is one of the few examples of a system that can filter brands out of the analogue world around us.

As a result of its rushed development, in its current state the Brand Killer’s software is a tad hit and miss (as you can see from the video demo), often slow to respond to logos as they initially come into view. That said, the fact that the team created a working prototype over the course of a hackathon is an impressive feat in itself and suggests that with a little work, this could be a feasible product.

Imagine the technology being integrated into future Oculus Rift experiences, an avenue where brands will undoubtedly want to push their marketing, or perhaps having it baked into Microsoft’s HoloLens tech is the ideal solution, able to filter both the physical and digital worlds simultaneously.

A world without advertising shoved in your face. We can only dream, for now…


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