How to Automatically Mute TV Commercials
Let’s be honest: hardly anybody likes TV commercials. To make things worse, their volume is usually higher than the rest of the program on TV. Even when the law that restricts their overly high volume went into effect, TV service providers would just equally reduce the volume of both programs and commercials, leaving commercials at a higher volume still.
That said, you might be asking yourself if there is any way to automatically mute these ear intruders. Stay with us to see the answer.
Bearing the Bad News
Unfortunately, muting commercials is such a controversial matter that nobody has even attempted to make it a reality these days. Copyright infringement claims are prevalent and real, which is very likely associated with the current commercial-muting situation.
TV service providers and studios have successfully sued and received court injunctions for copyright infringements, and they can take anyone that attempts to change their content to court. Muting commercials could constitute such an unlawful alteration.
Most of the solutions are homemade and meant for private use, while others have long been discontinued. Still, it’s worth taking a look at these projects to show you what worked and how we hope it may look like in the future. Also, if you’re tech-savvy, you might be even able to replicate some of the ideas shown here. (Just remember to share with the community.)
One of the most famous discontinued solutions to TV commercials is MuteMagic. This device cost only $40 at the time and was simple to set up. All you had to do was connect it to the TV and let it do its work. It used infrared technology to send a command and mute the sound system.
It used to work exclusively in North America and was sold only in the US and Canada because NTSC was the only supported broadcasting system. Surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly), the users were very satisfied, hailing it as an excellent product despite not being accurate 100% of the time.
Another product that looked very promising was supposed to be called Mutr, but unlike MuteMagic, it never saw the light of day. This device was announced in 2017 with a few promotional and showcase videos on YouTube, but there has been no real update since then. Even its website hasn’t been updated all this while.
According to the people behind Mutr, it can identify the start of a commercial break by sensing the differences between it and the actual program. It’d then send a command to the audio output device to either change the channel or mute. It’s supposed to come with an infrared port, an Ethernet input, and a Wi-Fi antenna.
There were multiple projects made using Raspberry Pi and Arduino, the most popular small computing platforms. One of these is called the Kommercial Killer. It’s a small portable device that can automatically mute a TV, as well as unmute it, from the other side of the house.
Its main advantage was not having to use the infrared remote control system that most TVs have, or any sort of wiring in general. Instead of that, it can learn a TV’s mute command, including that of new TVs. The default unmute interval of three minutes is set to the average duration of a commercial break. However, this can be configured.
The KK requires three different modules: a UHF radio receiver, an infrared module, and an Arduino Trinket board for the time interval of the commercial break.
Trying to Avoid Inconveniences
If you like tinkering with technology and interesting new devices, consider trying to make a device that works on Arduino or Raspberry Pi, as people have tasted success with these cheap microcomputers in the past. Otherwise, it might be best to wait and see if somebody might come up with more commercial-muting devices, or maybe even apps, although it’s not very likely. Also, cutting the cord is popular for a reason, and one of them is avoiding good-for-nothing ads.
Have you considered cutting the cord yet? Do you think someone might come up with a commercial muter despite the copyright issues? Share your thoughts in the comments below.