Amazon is rolling out a new feature for Alexa developers that allows them to use cloud services to help with verification of a wake word being used. The new feature, aptly named Cloud-Based Wake Word Verification, integrates a dedicated engine that can detect words that sound like wake words and help to eliminate false alarms. Once a developer enables the feature on their product, the system hears "Alexa", and routes it to the WWE, the Wake Word Engine, to be verified. The system may jump to life briefly, but any signs of life are snuffed out quickly if the WWE determines that the wake word that the system heard was not the real deal. With time, as the engine gets more data, it could also help Alexa-based devices to hear their wake word against backgrounds with increasingly louder and more complicated noise.
The whole thing starts with a system that's always recording and deleting audio, ready to pull a sample for saving or analysis at a moment's notice. When it thinks it detects the wake word, it will pull audio from a second or two before that to calibrate the ambient noise level, then search the sample for the wake word. If it thinks it hits the wake word in the sample, it proceeds with the wake word verification as described above. Otherwise, the sample is discarded, and rolling recording continues as it was. Developers have to make a few tweaks to their devices and apps in order to take advantage of the new feature, including enabling context, among others.
The new ecobee4 thermostat is the first device to use Cloud-Based Wake Word Verification. It has Alexa built in, and users can take advantage of voice commands to perform a good amount of the normal Alexa functions, along with controlling the thermostat. Hearing the local news and setting timers are just a couple of examples of things that users can do with the ecobee4. With Cloud-Based Wake Word Verification on board, it will be the first Alexa-based device out there to have fewer false alarm wakeups, preventing accidental commands and saving just a bit of power.