Don’t worry, Alexa won’t be triggered during Amazon’s Super Bowl ad

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If you’re tuning in to this Sunday’s Super Bowl to watch the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams battle it out for the Lombardi Trophy, you can be sure that you’re going to see an advertisement for Amazon’s Alexa devices. But don’t worry, you won’t have to unplug your own Alexa-powered speaker to prevent it from responding to its name. Amazon has taken steps to make sure the voice assistant won’t be triggered by the commercial.

In a blog post, Amazon detailed the steps it has taken to make sure Alexa-enabled devices don’t respond to hearing its name coming through your speakers on Sunday. The company is using a technique called acoustic fingerprinting to recognize where voices are coming from. The company says the technology can identify when a voice is coming from another device and not from a voice within the home. This is what prevents Alexa from responding to hearing its name on TV, whether it be via Amazon’s own advertisement or a prank intended to trigger the voice assistant.

Amazon offered a very detailed and technical explanation as to how the audio fingerprinting process works, which can be read on the company’s blog post. The simplified version is this: it has created a fingerprint of the audio in the upcoming Super Bowl ad that Alexa should be able to identify on the fly while when the ad starts playing. When it recognizes that fingerprint, it will ignore the request instead of responding as it normally would. This system works on device to prevent Alexa from responding to known mentions in other commercials and works in the cloud to check both known media and unfamiliar instances that don’t match existing audio samples.

Amazon has run into issues with accidental triggers setting off Alexa. South Park successfully executed a wide-scale trolling of Alexa during the premiere episode of the show’s 21st season. Over the course of the episode, characters on the show prompted an on-screen Alexa to input commands like setting alarms or adding items to a shopping cart. The on-screen voice activated real-life Alexa devices and resulted in some chaos as the voice assistant followed the commands given on the show.

Plus we also have the real deal, the full Amazon Super Bowl commercial.


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