Sunday July 31, 2016

Amazon's Next Noise-Canceling Headphones Could Turn Off When Someone Yells Your Name

I’m not sure why these are being touted for safety purposesآ—last time I checked, bicyclists or cars don’t give you predefined cues before hitting you, nor would you have time to react if they did. These headphones only seem to be of benefit to your significant other or co-worker who wants to get your attention from a distance.

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Amazon might be working on the first headphones that can save lives. The company was just awarded a patent on July 19 for a noise-canceling headphone that automatically clicks off when it "hears" certain sound patterns, frequencies and even keywords like a name. The feature would allow the wearer to instantly tune back into his or her surroundings, and hopefully get out of the way of oncoming traffic. A diagram in the patent application filed on July 25, 2014 shows an array of microphones built into the ear pads. I assume those could be used to listen to ambient sounds, similar to the way the Amazon Echo's Alexa is always aware of vocal prompts spoken around her. The description even talks about training the microphones to listen for a two-part audio command like "Hey Justin!"

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