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Sub In Art For Ads During Your NYC Transit Commute With Augmented Reality “No Ad” App

It’s like AdBlock–for the real world!

Sub In Art For Ads During Your NYC Transit Commute With Augmented Reality “No Ad” App

Ad blocking software is great, but it only works when you’re online, which is a problem for those of us who are still forced to spend at least a little bit of time interacting with the physical world around us. If you live in New York, for example, you’ll still end up spending some of your time on your commute staring at ads at subway stations, on the train itself, on the sides of the trains as they zoom past, etc., etc., etc.

Culture-jammers have spent years battling against the flow of advertising, but at some point, even the most steadfast among them have to acknowledge that physically pasting up anti-advertising propaganda, or snarky images of public figures dressed as Batman villains, or whatever, is a losing battle. You’ve got a lot of miles of subway to cover, and a lot of money spent to make sure the ads reach their target.

But the group Re+Public–which stands for “Reimagining Public Space”–has come up with a novel way to challenge the supremacy of physical advertising on the New York City commute: They’ve created an ad block that works in the real world. That app, “No Ad,” still requires users to be staring at their phones at all times to work–which means that only, say, 70% of transit riders will be able to use it–but the augmented reality app allows users to look at the world around them through their phone screens, and when they find a subway poster ad, they’ll instead see original artwork from a collection of over 50 street artists. It’s available on both the App Store and Google Play, and means that the next time you see someone wandering around the train station with their eyes locked intently on their phone screen, they might actually be paying attention–in fact, they just be seeing an even better reality than you are.

About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club.