Amazon just got a patent that will make punk kids groan and their parents grin.
The Seattle based company was recently awarded a U.S. patent regarding specialized noise canceling headphones. The difference being that Amazon’s design would allow certain words or phrases to filter through the headphones. While the patent only refers to a “predetermined word or phrase”, outlet’s such as The Verge and CNet have concluded this to refer to a user’s name.
The patent also phrases it so that the keywords could be specific to the user or the person interacting with them. The filing also mentions how “the noise-cancelling device can resume noise cancellation in response to a control signal.”
The patent did not make it clear if multiple words or phrases would be an option. If so, this could allow either the buyer or Amazon to add warning phrases such as “stop” or “look out.” These could provide increased safety for someone using the device in busy cities.
The diagram included with the filing gives a simple break down of the process. Sound passing outside the headphones could be picked up by a “keyword spotting” instrument. This would then be compared to the word or phrase that was chosen. If it does not line up, the sound does not pass through. If it is the word or phrase, the sound passes through to the user.
The patent was awarded on July 19, 2016 almost two years from the dated it was originally filed for. When it was filed in 2014, Amazon was still months away from announcing its Echo speaker and the Alexa artificially intelligent assistant. Benjamin Scott, who still works for Amazon as part of the Alexa Information Team, is one of those listed on the patent. The other name listed is Mark Rafn, a principal software engineer who has been with Amazon for almost 12 years.
Amazon has not announced a product or service related to this patent at this point.