Amazon Patents a Better Noise-Cancelling Headphone Technology

An amazing technology available today is the ability to privately listen to audio with the while canceling surrounding unwanted ambient noise. However, at first, I refused to purchase noise-cancelling headphones because of the fear of a critical event occurring which requires my attention, such as others trying to call out to me from where I can’t see them, or something dangerous such as a fire starting. With noise-cancellation headphones, I would not be able to notice these things.

Eventually, I gave in and purchased noise cancelling headphones after testing ones that my coworker let me use while operating a camera. After hearing the amazing high quality sound with comfortable light-weight headphones that cancel out other sounds, I purchased my own pair. I convinced myself that events around me that can go bad, due to my inability to hear them, would be a rare case.

Amazon has a solution idea for this issue. They have now earned a patent which toggles the noise cancellation feature depending on surround noise. When it senses noise that require the listener’s attention, the noise cancellation feature is suspended and the listener can hear the noise, such as a car driver honking for the listener to get out of his way.


The way this technology would work is buy having microphones listening to external ambient audio. After hearing an event, it would run a test to see if the audio received includes a keyword that suspends noise cancellation. If it doesn’t, then the noise cancellation continues and that external audio is cancelled out like normal.

If it does sense an keyword that requires the suspension of noise cancellation, then the noise cancellation is suspended. I think what happens after is that the headphones wait for the necessary interaction to complete, which was the reason why it suspended noise cancellation in the first place. For example, if someone calls out to you by your name, the headphones would temporarily suspend noise cancellation until the interaction with that external noise is complete (meaning you finished talking to the one who called out to you). Once this interaction is complete, the noise cancellation automatically resumes.

Hopefully Amazon releases headphones with this new technology to better protect the listeners, as well as giving us the ability to recognize critical events needing their attention, which is a major fallback of noise cancellation headphones.


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Yousef Shanawany

Living in the heart of Silicon Valley, Yousef is a tech reviewer and editor and enjoys reading about tech news around the world. As his primary focus is the video game industry, he also loves reading about mobile and tablet news, as well as other new emerging hardware technologies. Yousef graduated from San Jose State University, earning his Bachelors degree in Software Engineering. He spends most of his time reading, gaming, and programming.