People like noise-cancelling headphones for a reason. They tune out any ambient noise to ensure that users have a great listening experience. Now that’s great for when you’re traveling on an airplane or on a bus but the noise-cancelling feature can do harm if you’re around people who might need your help, because even when they call out to you, you won’t be able to hear them. Amazon has patented a new kind of noise-cancelling headphones that address this very issue and might potentially help save lives.
Amazon has been awarded a patent for noise-cancelling headphones that automatically click off when they hear certain frequencies, sound patterns, and even keywords like a name. This would enable the user to immediately hear ambient noise and react in whatever way they need to.
The way this would work is that the headphones will have an array of microphones built into the ear pads. They will constantly be listening for specific frequencies or keywords so when someone calls out your name, they will automatically shut off the music and let you hear ambient noise.
There are many noise-cancelling headphones on the market right now that have a manual passthrough button which when pressed allows the user to hear ambient noise. While that’s a welcome addition, many would appreciate having an automatic feature like the one Amazon has created to ensure that they stay in the loop even when they can’t hear anything other than what’s playing.
Amazon has only patented this technology right now, it’s unclear if and when these headphones will see the light of day.