The student-designed device that stops television adverts in real time

A team of engineering students have designed a device that stops television advertisements in their tracks - in real-time scenarios.

The design and development of a device that automatically detects upcoming advertisements on television and video -- and then can be controlled and switched to something else -- has won the accolade of judges at a recent international student technology design competition.

You're settled on your sofa, your favorite television show is on, and just as things begin to get interesting, suddenly you're bombarded with grinning models who possess perfect teeth -- enticing you to buy the latest cosmetics or switch your life insurance.

With the launch of smart TV and the ability to pause and rewind shows, what I generally do is wait an hour until the program finishes -- in order to avoid the plethora of ever-increasing advertisements.

Sure, adverts are necessary. However, hearing the annoying operatic theme tune to a comparison website for the hundredth time is not going to induce me to use the service -- and I want to get back to watching Game of Thrones.


Pondering this problem, a team of engineering majors from Arizona State University entered the Intel Cup Embedded Systems Design Contest, hosted in Shanghai, with a device designed to take the hassle out of advertisement skipping.

Aptly named Team AdSkip, the students were the sole American entrant out of roughly 160 teams spanned across 12 countries. Chris McBride, Chase Parenteau and Anthony Thau earned a second-prize ranking from 21 judges for the AdSkip project, which uses video signals to detect when advertisements are about to disrupt viewing.

Thau explained:

"AdSkip enhances the viewer’s television-watching experience. By detecting commercials, the device can offer the viewer some kind of secondary content during the commercial break, such as another show, or Internet content, until the show they were watching returns."

Instead of having to pre-record a show in order to avoid the tangerine-colored model yet again promoting the latest craze in spray-tan systems, the device analyzes the real-time video feed. Once advertising is detected, a user can choose which secondary source to switch to in advance.

It was developed using computer processors and Field Programmable Gate Array provided by Intel. The teams were given three months to use the technology to create a device that had a practical application for standard technology users.

The device's design has passed the proof of concept stage -- so it is technically feasible -- but in order to bring the project further in development, the team need to consider the exact applications of the device.

The competition has been hosted annually since 2002.

 (via Arizona State University)

Image credit: Aaron Gubrud/ASU


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