Amazon wants to make sure Alexa only responds to ‘Alexa’

Tyrone Stewart

Amazon EchoAmazon has introduced a new feature to improve Alexa’s wake word accuracy on third-party devices, so that the AI assistant doesn’t begin a conversation when hearing words similar to its name.

The Cloud-Based Wake Word Verification feature means that Alexa’s ‘wake word engine’ now follows the initial detection of the name with a secondary cloud-based check that verifies whether the name was actually spoken or not.

“With this update, the wake word engine (WWE) on the device handles the initial detection of ‘Alexa’, and then a secondary cloud-based check verifies the utterance,” said Ted Karczewski, content marketing manager of Alexa voice service at Amazon, in a blog post. “If a false wake word is detected, the verification process directs the device to close the audio stream and turn off the LED indicator.”

To enable the feature, devices will need an update. The first device to leverage the feature is the ecobee4 smart thermostat, which was announced two weeks ago.