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Amazon is helping Alexa make sure you actually asked for her

As more devices include the voice assistant, Amazon is hoping to reduce Alexa's false alarms.


The Ecobee4 smart thermostat (left, with the Amazon Echo Dot) will be the first product to take advantage of Amazon's new wake word verification.

Chris Monroe/CNET

"Hey Alexis. How's it going? Wait, why did that just set off my Alexa-powered device?"

Amazon on Monday announced a new feature for third-party Alexa devices that might make this type of scenario less common.

Its Cloud-Based Wake Word Verification runs an extra check after the assistant starts listening to make sure someone really said Alexa and not Allegra (because allergies happen). While Alexa will still perk up when it thinks you summoned it, it will immediately close the audio stream and turn off the LED indicator should the secondary check fail.

A similar feature is already included on Amazon's own Echo speakers using a combination of device- and cloud-based technologies, a spokeswoman told CNET.

The Alexa voice assistant is coming to all kinds of devices this year and for the sake of our sanity, Amazon has to ensure the always-listening electronics only wake up when you ask them to.

Amazon said that the first device to get the Wake Word Verification feature is the Ecobee4 smart thermostat. Other developers will be able to add the feature into their device with a few tweaks, Amazon said in its announcement.

The announcement comes as Amazon is rolling out a new line of Echo devices with the fashion-centric Echo Look and the touchscreen-equipped Echo Show.

Update 12:31 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Amazon.