Will “Diminished Reality” Be a Tool for Censorship?

Will Diminished Reality Be Used for Censorship? | 40Tech

A team of researchers in Germany (from Technische Universität Ilmenau) have developed a new technology called “Diminished Reality” that allows real time removal of unwanted objects from a video. It’s an amazing piece of tech; almost seamless, even with complex textures. The offending objects are destroyed and blended into the background as if they never existed — for every frame — and it all happens in milliseconds.

The applications that Diminished Reality could be put toward are many, from personal, to corporate, to government and news media. Imagine being able to remove your ex from that family reunion video; or how about that embarrassing stain that you didn’t notice until you watched the recording back? Maybe this would be a good way to to quickly edit your film — or set up a replacement video for those pesky museum guards to watch… *ahem*

The application of Diminished Reality that immediately comes to mind, however, is censorship — specifically censorship in news footage that could be used for propaganda purposes and the like. Even “live” feeds are potential vehicles in US programming, if the software can be adapted to work with the imposed five-second delay on live broadcasts (thank you Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson). If that happens, the marketing term “Diminished Reality” will take on literal meaning. I am very intrigued to see where this tech will go in the near future.

Check out the video below to see Diminished Reality in action — then leave your thoughts in the comments:

YouTube Preview Image

Bobby Travis

Bobby isn't 40-something, but is a strong supporter of the Grown-up Geek kind. He's a loving husband and father first, but is also a freelance writer, productivity nut, operatically trained singer, and (not-so) closet geek. Check out his random thoughts, wackiness, and Instagram pics on Tumblr, Twitter, or Google+-- or just head over to bobby-travis.com.


  1. WOW! Amazing! Thnanks for sharing!

  2. Great post. I fought through Posterous’ delightful interface to repost it at chiggsy.com with some of my thoughts.

  3. For the sake of continued conversation, everyone, here’s a snippet of what Kevin wrote on the subject:

    “I said during R. Kelly’s court case that one day we would name him hero, and it seems that today is the day.

    I completely think this will be used for censorship, and certainly as a threat to anyone. The party in power of anywhere would want this, both sides.”

    He goes on to talk about the potential this tech has to destroy the video as legal proof — which I agree with, though I think it will give rise to new experts in testimony as well — and the potential to combine this tech with a sort of seamless augmented reality.

    Great thoughts! Check him out on chigsy.com for the details.

Leave a Reply