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Snap, clap, whistle or shake TV commercials away with Playmute

Swap TV commercials for content you actually want to see with a snap of your fingers. Or a shake of your phone. Or...well, you'll see.

TV commercials? Nah. How about a quick check of your Facebook page? Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

This might be the Golden Age of TV, but unfortunately, it's also a pretty good time for TV commercials. In fact, according to a Nielsen report (PDF), an average of 38 ads air every minute across national TV and about one-quarter of each hour is devoted to commercials.

Sure you can just push your mute button, but then you're left in silence, still having to look at the latest ad for fast food or a prescription drug. Wouldn't it be better to watch what you want during those 15 minutes of every hour? If a new device on Kickstarter called Playmute has its way, that's exactly what you'll be able to do.

Playmute is a small device that installs between your cable box and your TV (an HDMI cable plugs in to each side). The device has a sonic sensor and Android TV built in. So, when your favorite episode of "Arrow" is interrupted by someone hawking hair gel, all you need to do is clap, snap your fingers, whistle or shake your smartphone and the Playmute will instantly switch the broadcast to anything Android offers.

This means you can switch to YouTube, your Facebook page, a favorite app or game, or pretty much anything available through the Google Play store, and enjoy your own content instead of advertising. When Playmute is activated, the channel you were watching shrinks down to a small picture-in-picture window so you can switch back by making your noise (or shaking your phone) when the show resumes. You set Playmute's default content with a companion app on your smartphone -- either iOS or Android.


Unlike other crowdfunded campaigns that offer only computer models and animated simulations of their product, this one has a video at the end that shows the device actually working, so Playmute seems pretty legit.

Right now you can get a super-early bird Playmute for $99 (about £63, AU$113). That will go up to $129, then $149 as the campaign, which ends December 23, goes on. The creators are looking to raise $100,000 and the devices are planned to ship in June 2015. Till then, keep that mute button handy.