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Amazon just patented headphones that switch off when your mom walks in on you watching porn

Photo: Sascha Kohlmann/Flickr

Darn, that’s a long title, but let’s get serious for a moment.

Noise-cancelling headphones are a dream come true for anyone who loves shutting out the white noise of the world and enjoying tunes in crystal clear quality. Unfortunately people tend to use them while walking along busy sidewalks and even when crossing highly trafficked streets.

Doesn’t really sound safe, does it?

The patent which was recently awarded to Amazon, features noise-cancelling headphones with additional mics to detect certain audio frequencies, sound patterns, or keywords. Once it picks up on one of these set cues, the headphones would then shut off immediately, allowing the listener to become aware of their immediate surroundings.

Aspects of the disclosure provide suspension of noise cancellation at a noise-cancelling device using keyword spotting. In one aspect, a predetermined word or phrase can be spotted within an utterance received at the noise-cancelling device, and in response, noise cancellation can be suspended or otherwise terminated. The predetermined word or phrase can be specific to an end-user that utilizes the noise-cancelling device and/or a person that interacts with the end-user. In another aspect, interaction between an operator and the noise-cancelling device can be monitored after noise cancellation is suspended, and based at least on such interaction, a model for keyword spotting can be refined. In certain aspects, noise cancellation at the noise-cancelling device can be suspended or otherwise terminated in response to receiving a suspension directive via an electronic non-audio signal, for example, from a peripheral device. In other aspects, the noise-cancelling device can resume noise cancellation in response to a control signal.

The technology could be programmed to shut off after hearing a phrase like “look out!”, or maybe deactivate when hearing the screech of a car’s tires.

Like any new invention, it may only be able to respond to the most basic of audio cues, but I’m sure in time someone could homebrew the hell out of it to detect the noise your door makes when it opens. Then, you’ll have enough time to switch away from your porn tabs to a blank Google Search homepage, but one could only dream.

As this is simply a patent, there is really no timeline as to when development on an actual product may start, but I’m sure they’ll work on something once enough headphone wearers get bounced down in the middle of the street.

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