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Amazon invents voice-controlled noise-canceling headphones

by Jacob Kleinman | August 1, 2016August 1, 2016 11:20 am PST

Noise canceling headphones can be pretty isolating, cutting you off from the rest of the world. Amazon could have a solution to bring you the best of noise-canceling technology without any of the drawbacks.

A recently published Amazon patent describes how the company could create noise-cancelling headphones with an audio-controlled on/off switch. If the headphones register someone saying a preset keyword or phrase, the noise-cancelling technology would be suspended automatically. That way a friend or coworker could get your attention easily by simply saying your name or some other word or sentence.

You could also use the same technology to switch noise-canceling back on. So, once you’re done with the conversation, for example, you wouldn’t need to fiddle with the physical controls on your headphones. Just say the keyword and you’re good to go.

The patent was originally filed by Amazon back in 2014. The company has come a long way with voice recognition in the time since. One might imagine how it could use its Alexa software in a similar situation, potentially expanding those voice controls beyond an on/off switch to add tons of other features.

Even if Amazon decides to just stick with its original plan, it could still make for a pretty cool pair of headphones. That’s assuming this patented concept ever sees the light of day, of course.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...