Amazon improves Alexa wake word verification

Amazon is adding two-step verification of the "Alexa" wake word to make sure Alexa-enabled devices ​respond when they're supposed to.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Amazon is adding two-step verification of the "Alexa" wake word to make sure Alexa-enabled devices respond when they're supposed to.

The update is part of the Alexa Voice Services (AVS) feature, which is what hardware developers use to build Alexa capabilities into third-party devices. Amazon said the verification change improves Alexa wake word accuracy and reduces false wakes caused by words that sound like "Alexa."

"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," wrote Alexa evangelist Ted Karczewski 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."

Amazon said third-party hardware developers will need to make a few changes to their device systems in order to utilize the new feature. Right now, the ecobee4 smart thermostat is the only product that's enabled the two-step verification feature.

The announcement comes a week after Amazon unveiled the fourth device in its voice-activated speaker lineup, the Echo Show. The device functions much like the original Echo system, but with an additional 7-inch touchscreen and new video calling features.

Read also: Amazon opens Echo microphone tech to third-party Alexa devices | Amazon rolls out new Alexa dashboard and device address API | Amazon Alexa on the Huawei Mate 9: Hands-on screenshots | Amazon Alexa could be getting 15-second sponsored ads with new VoiceLabs program (TechRepublic)

Amazon introduced the original Echo in 2014, followed by its scaled down counterpart, the Echo Dot. Last month, Amazon introduced the Echo Look, a quirky Echo version that comes equipped with a depth-sensing camera and LED lighting. The device will take a picture of your outfit via voice command and use machine learning algorithms to offer fashion advice.

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