The problem with having noise-canceling headphones is that when someone speaks to you, you can’t hear them. You could pause your music or tap on them (for some headphones) to temporarily activate transparency mode, but it would usually mean that the person needs to repeat what they just said to you.
Apple thinks that they might have found the solution to that problem by deactivating noise-cancellation when certain code words are spoken. This is according to a patent discovered by AppleInsider which reveals a potential feature for a future set of AirPods.
According to the patent, it suggests that in the future, AirPods could be on the lookout for specific code words that could temporarily deactivate noise-cancellation. So for example, that code word could be your name, but in order to avoid accidentally deactivating noise-cancellation for other people in the room who might share your name, Apple suggests trying to match it with a pre-authorized contact.
This means that if you put your parents as pre-authorized contacts, if the AirPods hear your name being called and the voice matches those of your parents, it would then pause noise-cancellation, but it will ignore those calls if it’s from someone else.
It’s actually a very interesting patent albeit a complicated one. It would be rather annoying having to record voice samples from everyone who may or may not interrupt you when your AirPods are on, wouldn’t it? Either way as with most patents, it’s hard to say if this will become an actual feature, but in the meantime what do you think about it?