If you can’t skip them, turn them down

For those not yet fast-forwarding past the BMW ad with the screaming child, here’s another option: tone down the little bugger with the Audiovox/Terk VR-1. The product apparently lowers the volume during blaring commercial breaks by (to hazard a guess) reacting to the change in the vertical blanking interval when an ad comes on. The MSNBC reviewer is not clear on whether the VR-1 works or not; perhaps his methodology should have included noting specific commercials that are actually broadcast too loudly over a particular station, then measuring the decibels emitted. Not all of them are excessively loud (as opposed to simply a contrast to the program material), and the idea of conspiratorially loud commercials broadcast behind the backs of a sleeping FCC is something of a ingrained consumer myth (exactly what Audiovox/Terk is counting on). So, expect next-gen VR-1 consumers to ask: If the device can determine when ads are coming on, why can’t it zap them entirely?

—Posted by Gregory Solman