You knew it was coming. There have been several versions released already. But nothing this complete.
Ever notice those rating boxes in the upper left corner of your favorite TV show? This is why they're there. The luxury afforded to DBS Dish owners for the past year or so has now made it to the consumer add-on market. V-gis by Tri-Vision is a V-Chip technology that can be added to any TV or Cable Box by a consumer. You simply plug it into the cable line after the cable box and use the supplied cable locks to prevent unauthorized removal. Set the Parent Identification Number (PIN) and begin censoring anything with excessive ratings.
I would be very scared of this technology if it weren't for the fact that this is designed for parents to censor what their kids watch. In fact, I think it is a really good idea. The only thing I can think of that is better (from a parental control point of view) is supervising all TV that your kids watch. Since that is an impossibility for most parents, this is a good alernative.
The basic product has an MSRP of $79.99 and should be in stores by the end of Q1 '98.
One worried note, I heard several of my journalistic coulleages (not GameZero) asking in paranoid tones about a forthcoming product for the internet and telephones (VideoPhones). The difficulty with this technology on the internet is that the 'net is a global community, and what is considered to be acceptable in Finland may not be acceptable in the USA. Yet we can hardly impose our standards of rating on the Fins without being arrogant and domineering. We should all remember when one of the major on-line services disallowed the word "breast" they unwittingly censored all sorts of medical information on breast cancer. So what to do? The internet is still an adult arena - children should be protected through on-line services like AOL or Prodigy, and should only use the 'net under parental supervision. To all those who would censor the 'net, get a grip on the fact that this is a global arena, and to protect the freedom of information exchange we must sometimes put up with things that we do not like. Remember, your ideal version of the internet is probably different from anyone else's. As for telephones, the phone company already offers blocking services for 900 numbers, they will offer a similar service to prevent smut phone calls at your discretion.