When multiple devices that support a virtual assistant activated by an activation hotword are present in a particular location, the virtual assistant can trigger on more than one device when a user utters the hotword. There is no existing mechanism for accurate device arbitration. This can cause a device other than the one the user intended (e.g., nearest to the user or most suited to the command) to respond to the user request, leading to user frustration. This disclosure describes techniques to determine the relative proximity of each device to a user using audio propagation time from the user’s utterance of a hotword. The respective proximity of each device to the user is sent to a device arbitration server, which determines with high accuracy and effectiveness the particular device that should respond to the user request.
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Sanders, Nicholas Jordan and Huffman,, Roy Winfield Junior, "Virtual Assistant Device Arbitration by Time-of-Flight Based on Hotword", Technical Disclosure Commons, (December 09, 2021)