Amazon is one of the biggest tech companies around. It’s usually brought up in the same conversations as companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook. The company struck gold with the Amazon Echo, a Bluetooth speaker with a few neat tricks up its sleeves. It constantly listens for a key phrase that will set it into action. Saying the phrase “Hey Alexa” will activate the virtual assistant that’s baked into the speaker.
Even Google decided that it was too good of an idea to pass up and are expected to release their own smart speaker. UE also decided to push an update to two of their speakers which allows them to piggy back off the virtual assistants that are already in our phones.
Now Amazon appears to be taking that concept a step further. A new patent that Amazon was recently given outlines a pair of noise cancelling headphones that will use keyword detection to let certain sounds in. If a phrase or word (like the users name) is spoken nearby the headphones will automatically suspend noise-cancelling. This will allow the wearer to be more aware of his/her surroundings.
It’s a good idea, but it raises a few more questions as well. Will the music also be paused when this occurs or only ANC? Will it also suspend the ANC for something like emergency sirens? What happens if someone (like myself) has a fairly common name? I don’t want my headphones pausing playback every time the name “Adam” is said on the subway.
By the time these headphones come to market (if they come to market), Amazon will have surely figured all that out. Still, it’s always exciting to see something new being done with audio products. Amazon did it once with the Echo, and maybe they’ll do it again with a smart pair of noise-cancelling headphones.