At a recent technology conference in Palo Alto, 28 year-old Andre Calhoun revealed his latest software breakthrough- an app for Google Glass that virtually removes all advertisements from the real world.
Many computer users will be familiar with a similar program, AdBlock, which serves to remove irritating online ads from websites and videos on the internet. However, Calhoun stresses that his new app—which he calls AdNope—is a much different ball game.
“I think I’ve really improved on [AdBlock’s] idea,” Calhoun said in an interview. “See, just making ads ‘disappear’ from the real world would look a little ridiculous. So instead I’ve strived to make the change feel natural, by replacing them all with large, black rectangles.”
The New Jersey resident says that he first got the idea while watching television at his mother’s home, where he lives. “I was watching American Idol, and they were about to announce the winner, and then bam! Commercial break! I got so distracted by an ad for Coke that I had to leave the room to get one, and I missed seeing who won. I still don’t know!”
After his year at a local for-profit university, Calhoun has dedicated all his time to working on AdNope, even going so far as to quit his job-search entirely. “When it’s something this important, sometimes finding a reliable source of income has to wait,” he told us, with a confident smile.
He says the secret to making progress is constant testing, so he never removes his Google Glass headset. While this means great productivity, it can cause the young man a bit of confusion. “It can be hard to know when it’s working. Sometimes I come home and sit down on the couch for fifteen minutes before I realize that it’s not blocking a commercial, the TV’s just off.”
There are still a few bugs to be worked out, however, most of which center on AdNope’s ad-detection functionality.
“It can be a little sensitive at times,” Calhoun admitted. “Like, it pretty much assumes that all large blocks of text are ads. So most books and papers get blacked out. And faces. Basically it thinks everyone is in a commercial. I haven’t seen a face in three weeks- just rectangles.”
Other problems stem from hardware shortcomings of Google Glass itself. “Well, Google Glass isn’t exactly like a pair of glasses, I found out. It sorta just puts a little screen in the corner of one eye. So the other eye can still see all the ads.”
Despite these issues, Calhoun keeps an optimistic attitude by reminding himself that similar obstacles must have been faced by other young inventors like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
“I definitely can relate to those guys, you know what I mean?” he said, as we concluded our conversation. “Like, I didn’t need a college education either.”