A Real World Ad Blocker
Written by David Conrad   
Saturday, 31 January 2015

If you use Adblocker when you visit a website then perhaps you would like to take the principle to the next level and eradicate all advertising from the real world? Sounds impossible, but with diminished reality, you can do it. 

With the announcement of HoloLens from Microsoft augmented reality has hit the headlines again. It is going to be an amazing world where we all wear AR headsets and view the world with additional information and objects - but what about information we don't want? 

 brandkillergogles

 

This is where Diminished Reality comes into play. The idea is that using image processing you can detect things in the visual field that the user might not want to see. Advertising, for example. Then you can simply remove the offending areas, so creating a display that is less than reality, i.e. dimished reality.

 

brandkillerinuse

 

Now a group of undergraduates from the University of Pennsylvania, Reed Rosenbluth, Jonathan Dubin, Tom Catullo, and Alex Crits-Christoph, have demonstrated it in action with a stereo AR headset - so creating AdBlock for Real Life. 

 

 

It uses OpenCV and Python to detect and track ad logos using SIFT object detection that are stored in a database and then it simply blurs the area in the users display. The algorithms used are demanding and you will notice that there is a lot of lag. However the whole project, including the AR goggles, was built from scratch for the PennApps hackathon in 48 hours.

So where next?

The Microsoft HoloLens could certainly be used to do this as it has an opacity channel which means that rather than bluring out the logos you could simply simply substitute a block of color. With a little more processing you could use an in-painting algorithm to remove the logo and restore the object to what it should look like without the logo. 

Interestingly Brand Killer didn't win anything at all in the hackathon. It might be unfair to point out that the list of hackathon sponsors would make a perfect test case for Brand Killer. 

A step too far? 

Perhaps....

It has been "predicted" that in the near future humanity will spend most of its time behind AR headsets.

 brandkillerinresult

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 31 January 2015 )