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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 October, 2004, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Total turn-off for tiresome TVs
The TV-B-Gone promises peace within 17 seconds
Like x-ray specs, the invisibility suit or the ever-lasting doughnut, it sounds too good to be true.

But a US electronics expert is selling a tiny remote-control device that he claims can switch off any television at the push of a button.

Demand for the keyring-sized TV-B-Gone, which retails at $15 (8), is already outstripping supply.

The website of inventor Mitch Altman has crashed under the volume of enquiries from would-be buyers.

Total turn-off

The TV-B-Gone works on the same principle as a universal remote control, but it can only activate or de-activate TV sets.

The device runs through some 209 infrared codes which control more than 1,000 models of TV, and ought to disable most sets within 17 seconds.

Mitch Altman
Mr Altman wants to make you think
Mr Altman - who has not owned a TV in 24 years - has discreetly tested the gizmo in the US and France.

"I don't want to make anyone's life more difficult," he says.

"I just don't like TV, and I'd like people to think more about this powerful medium in their lives."

Missing peace

Rampant demand for the TV-B-Gone is being seen as a symptom of growing irritation with noise pollution.

"You should not have your consciousness constantly invaded," David Burke, of anti-TV activist group WhiteDot, told Wired magazine.

"Television people are getting better and better at finding ways of roping us into TV where we can't get away."

Meanwhile, Japanese scientists have developed a form of building material that blocks mobile phones, and the market for jamming devices - illegal in many countries - has been brisk.

In the US, there is a growing campaign against ear-splitting car stereos and alarms.

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