A Minnesota invention lets viewers silence annoyances without fumbling around with the remote.
People who are loving all these political ads can stop reading now. For the rest of you, there is now a Minnesota-devised solution to make it stop, a way to say-- and show -- "I do not approve of this ad."
Smash Mute, a stand-alone device 200 times bigger than that infernal, impossible-to-find mute button on most remotes, makes it infinitely easier to silence not just political propaganda but any commercial (no more Flo), annoying talking head or even Honey Boo Boo.
It also can work in reverse, said inventor Gibson Carothers.
"What started as 'you're angry at people on TV and want to do something about it' turned into something practical," Carothers said. "I'll have the TV on with no sound while I'm working on my computer, and if I see Bill Gates on, I hit the button to get the sound back. It's amazing how often I use it."
Carothers, a longtime Twin Cities ad executive who now lives in Houston, first bounced the idea off Minnesota-based partners Max Haynes and Frank Freeman. "Their initial response was everybody has a mute button. Are people going to pay for something they already had? No one goes into a store and says, 'By the way, do you have a really large mute button I can try?'"
They went ahead and released the 5-inch unit with the 3-inch red button reading "Shut the #*@% up!" ("we did that to get attention; we don't have a $50 million ad budget") in August. A CNN story sent thousands of people to smashmute.com, and about 10 percent of site visitors have plunked down $25 (which includes shipping) for the device.
"We get so many people saying 'I am the perfect person for this,'" Carothers said. "One of them told me 'Every time I try and mute my TV, I end up with electronic snow or Brazilian soccer.'"
Carothers is especially happy with the way the gadget fits in with the company name: Damn Handy Products.