Good news for those watching the Super Bowl. You don’t have to worry about your Alexa-powered speaker being woken up when Amazon’s 2018 Super Bowl ad comes on the TV. Amazon has already released its 90-second ad that features CEO Jeff Bezos along with celebrities like Anthony Hopkins, Rebel Wilson, Cardi B, and Gordon Ramsay. The word “Alexa” is said 10 times during the Super Bowl ad, but Amazon assures us that their Echo won’t wake up and try to respond when it hears Alexa’s name.
We don’t know how they are doing this, but a spokeswoman for Amazon mentions that the company does alter its Alexa advertisements “to minimize Echo devices falsely responding in customer’s homes.”
We can only imagine how many Alexa-powered speakers would be woken up when the ad plays during the big game if Amazon didn’t build these protections in. It would be a disaster for Amazon and Echo users.
One popular theory about how they are doing this comes from a Reddit user who did some digging into an Amazon patent from 2014 last year. They found out that the company transmits an inaudible acoustic signal to let Alexa know that it should ignore this instance of its wake word.
He ran Alexa ads through some digital audio editing software and discovered that the ads transmit levels of sound in the 3,000 and 6,000 hertz portion of the audio spectrum which is inaudible for humans. This may allow Amazon to simply tip off Alexa to ignore certain commands if it picks up on artificial gaps in the spectrum.
At least users will not be annoyed this year.