Doritos offers gamers software to cancel out crunching sounds

While some fear artificial intelligence will lead the humanity’s eventual destruction or irrelevance, others are using the technology for more practical purposes in the here and now. 

Consider Doritos. For many, the crunchy snack is synonymous with video games. But while the two often go hand-in-hand, there’s a problem for headphone-wearing gamers: crunching sounds. Many complain that the munching sounds of other players distract them and hurt their performance. 

AI has come the rescue in the form of Doritos Silent, which, despite being software, is described in a PepsiCo promotional video as “the world’s first AI-augmented snack powered by crunch cancellation.” The software is available for free download but only works with Windows PCs for now.

Developing it took six months and involved artificial intelligence and machine learning analyzing more than 5,000 crunch sounds, according to the snacks-and-beverage giant. 

Smooth Technology, an engineering and design studio in New York, helped PepsiCo develop the product. “We all know that gamers love Doritos, but that unmistakable crunch can often disrupt those intense gaming moments,” said Dylan Fashbaugh, the lead developer at Smooth Technology, in a statement. “We’ve worked to ensure gamers can enjoy the crunch of Doritos without disturbing their fellow players, making for a better gaming experience.”

Of course, many observers might dismiss Doritos Silent as a trivial development, or a mere marketing ploy. A review by PC Gamer called it “profoundly stupid,” while also admitting it worked well enough with Doritos Silent chips if not always with competing crisps (which other players might very well be eating—the software can’t prevent you from hearing your own crunching).  

But Doritos Silent does perhaps speak to how drawn marketers—including Heineken, which recently offered a gaming PC that doubles as a fridge—are to the video game industry. Globally this year, that industry is expected to generate $188 billion in revenue, up 2.6% from 2022, according to a report from Newzoo, an Amsterdam-based industry tracker.

It’s also expected to reach 3.4 billion players. At that size, it’s a market PepsiCo and other global marketers can sink their teeth into.

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