Here’s why Alexa won’t light up during Amazon’s Super Bowl ad


The word “Alexa” is uttered 10 times during the Super Bowl spot, but thankfully, the Amazon Echo in your living room isn’t going to perk up and try to respond. An Amazon spokeswoman is guarded about explaining exactly why, saying only, “We do alter our Alexa advertisements … to minimize Echo devices falsely responding in customer’s homes.”

A September 2014 Amazon patent titled “Audible command filtering” describes techniques to prevent Alexa from waking up “as part of a broadcast watched by a large population (such as during a popular sporting event),” annoying customers and overloading Amazon’s servers with millions of simultaneous requests.

The patent broadly describes two techniques.

I can’t decide whether this is creepy or cool….maybe creepycool?

  • It’s kinda like Shazam.

  • It’s smart.

  • JimCracky

    Big Brother wants you to buy a coffee maker.

  • James Hughes ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ”

    I did not read the patent. Did anyone else? Yes, I am being lazy about this!

    My guess is it can detect the difference between a real voice and one being transmitted from a speaker? Or they fed the information for the voice being used in the ad(s) into the filter ahead of time?

    • No need to read the patents. Just read the article.

  • Picollus

    The real question is : Can you hack these device (siri included) using audio command not in hearable adult frequencies !!!

  • T!

    So Apple gets the assistant to recognize your own voice and stop other voices from invoking it (hence Phil can say “hey Siri” during keynotes)… Amazon sends an inaudible signal to temporarily turn off the assistant. I think the former approach is better.

  • Mo

    Alexa never lights up for me any more. I think she’s seeing an AI on the side.

    • Mary


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    • GS

      Explains why the dog doesn’t bark