Tech by VICE

Hackers Built an Ad-Blocking AR Headset

This DIY headset built from the ground up at PennAppsW2015 can effectively recognize and eliminate pesky ads thanks to augmented reality.

by Beckett Mufson
Jun 12 2016, 11:50am

This article was published on January 27, 2015, but we think it still rocks.

One big threat posed by technologies like Google Glass and Oculus Rift is the advent of unending, inescapable advertisements that could follow us wherever we go, like plausible incarnations of the retina scan banners of Minority Report. Luckily, that hasn't happened yet—and in fact, the complete opposite is taking place, thanks to talented tinkerers like the team behind the head-mounted, ad-seeking Brand Killer reality goggles.  

The four DIY computer engineers modded a 7" screen, goggles, a camera, and some clever circuitry to create a camera that acts as your eyes and blurs out any logo (within a preset database) its wearer encounters. "Corporate branding and advertisements are ubiquitous in society today and almost impossible to avoid," the Brand Killer team from PennAppsW2015, which consists of Reed Rosenbluth, Jonathan Dubin, Tom Catullo, and Alex Crits-Christoph, writes on the project page. "Corporate branding and advertisements are ubiquitous in society today and almost impossible to avoid. What if we lived in a world where consumers were blind to this surplus of corporate branding? Brand Killer is a technology demonstration that envisions a future in which consumers can use augmented reality to opt out corporate influence."

The guys behind Brand Killer weren't the first to come up with the idea of IRL AdBlock, as evidenced by countless Twitter jokes, and the popular NO AD app, which replaces NYC subway ads with digital art. The DIY headset is exciting, though, because it's not site-specific, and it seems to work fairly well in the demo below. The headpiece is pretty clunky at the moment, but as the narrator explains, "This technology can be extended and slimmed down in the future." In short, those Twitter jokes might not be jokes for much longer.

Images screencapped via

Visit the Brand Killer site for more information.


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virtual reality
Augmented Reality
Brand Killer
Alex Crits-Christoph
Jonathan Dubin
Reed Rosenbluth
Tom Catullo
block advertising
vr goggles