If you’re wearing headphones, it can be difficult to hear when someone is trying to get your attention.
(Similarly, it can be heard to get the attention of someone wearing headphones without startling them.)
Headphones could have a small microphone on them with a processing unit that could listen for certain words.
When the headphones detect a specific trigger word (for example, the user’s name, or important phrases like “free food in the break room” or “someone’s breaking into your car”), the headphones would temporarily reduce playback volume.
Fig. 1: These headphones have a microphone that listens for certain user-specified key phrases that will cause playback to be temporarily muted.
The user would need to specifically configure a set of phrases of interest. For example, a user would most likely want their own name to mute the headphones, but probably they wouldn’t want their a co-worker’s name to also have this effect.
Fig. 2: Here is an example for a headphone-wearer named Joe. The headphones would most likely incorrectly reduce the volume in situations F and G, unless sophisticated linguistic processing was performed to determine that they do not actually refer to the user “Joe.”
This seems like a product that could actually exist. It might be annoying to configure the headphones for your specific name, however.
PROS: All of them!
CONS: If you have a name that shares syllables with common words, this set of headphones might not work too well. It is recommended that you change your name in such a situation.