Cool Consumer Tech -- TV Guardian

One of my New Years Resolutions was to protect what my kids hear on TV ... without being an ostrich in the sand and isolating them from the world.

I looked at TV Guardian a few years ago, with their embedded censoring technology within a DVD player -- but they were limited to 480 (non-HD) resolutions. Well, they finally released the TV Guardian HD and it really is pretty awesome!

The small black TVG box comes with two HDMI (and optical audio) inputs, along with one set of respective outputs, and a remote. The remote has literally five buttons and reminds me more of a car fob than something that belongs in my living room. With just a click, you can:

  • Choose which of the two HDMI sources should be routed through the TVG before going to your television
  • Determine what level of filtering should be applied, based on profiles like "Kids", "Parents" and "Other".
  • For each profile, you can define tolerance to Sexual references, Religious references and overall language to "Strict", "Moderate" or "Unfiltered"

The device is most impressive in its elegance. Here is how it works:

  1. By co-connecting not only the HDMI connectors but also a standard video (yellow plug) connection, the TVG is able to read the Closed-Captioning associated with your TV or DVD feed (including most Cable and Satellite devices).
  2. If an objectionable word is seen in the text of the closed-captioning, then the sound mutes out in its place - and the text phrase appears on the screen below to ensure you see the context.
  3. That's it -- it really is just that simple!!

In the diagram above, pretend that the word "four" is a bad word. If an actor were counting out-loud, the audio would literally sound like "One ... Two ... Three ... (silence) ... Five" ... with the same words (and blank) appearing below for just a second.

Currently, it appears that the only media types that TVG can't support are Blu-Ray and Internet-Streaming. Coincidently, there is an online petition to include standardized Closed-Captioning within Internet Streaming as well, which would benefit families that want to use technologies like TVG but also our hearing impaired friends. Please click here, if you would like to add your voice to that petition.

Bottom Line on TV Guardian -- There are several programs that I wouldn't mind my kids watching, but today's actors and game participants just seem compelled to add expletives like they were any other part of speech. And since the FCC and network censors have lowered their standards so much, my family viewing is continually strict.

You can't solve society's issues with technology, but at least TV Guardian opens up new entertainment options in my house.

Thanks for reading -- and now, back to Data Protection stuff ...