Silencing the Stars

Margaret Reaume, Staff Reporter

It seems that certain celebrities are mentioned over and over again on television. Most people who watch TV do not enjoy hearing about Lindsay Lohan or Justin Bieber mentioned every time they try to enjoy the news. One such viewer, Matt Richardson, decided to do something to silence the constant mention of these often obnoxious stars.

Richardson, who works from his home in Brooklyn, New York, is a video producer and skilled hacker. He developed a television remote that can be programmed to automatically mute the TV every time certain names are mentioned. To create his invention, Richardson simply used a type of programmable computer hardware called Arduino and an infrared LED light.

Here’s how it works: the remote views the TV’s closed-captioned transcripts and whenever certain names are mentioned, the television is muted for 30 seconds. Most importantly, the list of names can be edited over and over again.

This seems like an expensive, time-consuming invention, right? Wrong. The construction of the remote only cost Richardson about $70 and was completed in his spare time in a mere week.

Many people have high hopes of developing the technology into something more. Some suggest it could be used to stop commercials. Others believe it could be useful in helping parents prevent their children from hearing inappropriate things on TV. It could even be used to record things that people do want to hear whenever a particular name is mentioned.

Richardson introduced the remote at the Maker Faire in New York City last month. Unfortunately for irritated television viewers, Richardson does not plan to make a profit from his creation. He says it is just for fun, and he has posted how-to information online for those who want to alter their own remote and maintain their sanity.