Plano-Based Frito-Lay Launches ‘Crunch-Cancelling’ AI Tech for Chip-Chomping PC Gamers

The new noise-cancelling software solution—called Doritos Silent—"lets PC gamers enjoy their favorite chips without distracting other players," Frito-Lay says. An AI model was trained to recognize "more than 5,000 different crunch sounds" to help achieve the breakthrough.

The crunch is one of the best parts of eating a chip—but not for someone who listening with headphones on the other side of your conversation. PC gamers worldwide have experienced the brain-shattering SCRUNCCCCHHHHH of a rival player munching a chip right into their headset’s microphone.

Now Doritos, the corn tortilla chip brand from Plano-based Frito-Lay, has harnessed artificial intelligence to “cancel the crunch” with a new software release.

The new noise-cancelling technology, called Doritos Silent, “lets PC gamers enjoy their favorite chips without distracting other players,” Frito-Lay says.

The company cited online surveys showing that gamers around the world are hungry for a solution to loud chip-chomping during game play.

According to Doritos’ online surveys, 30% of gamers in the U.S. say that “other people crunching distracts them from playing well or impacts their performance.”

The crunch crisis is even more dire in Europe. Some 46% of gamers in the U.K. “dislike the sound of other people eating.” And in Portugal and Spain, 68% and 64% of gamers respectively “rank crisps or chips first when asked which food items create the worst noise while they’re gaming and the other person is eating.”

Doritos will still be crunchy—it’s AI-based software that cancels the sound

Doritos Silent marketing campaign video still [Image: Doritos UK]

To cancel the crunch, Frito-Lay could have rolled out some kind of flimsy chip that didn’t make a sound when chomped. But that sounds horrible, and it’s not at all what they did.

Instead, the company partnered with Brooklyn-based Smooth Technology, a leader in electronic and interactive design, to create new “crunch cancellation” technology. The AI-based software solution took six months to develop, including a technical analysis of “more than 5,000 different crunch sounds.”

According to marketing news website The Drum, Smooth Technology trained an AI model to recognize the sound of a Doritos chip getting crunched. A second AI model was developed to recognize, isolate, and amplify the chip-chomper’s voice—with the annoying crunch deleted from the audio stream. The Drum noted that while gamers on the other end won’t hear the crunch, the person doing the crunching will still experience their own satisfying SCRUNCCCCHHHHH.

By offering the new tech to all PC gamers, “Doritos hopes its silence can benefit the 80% of millennials and Gen Z who classify themselves as gamers,” the brand said.

Aiming to “elevate”—and de-crunch—the gaming experience

Fernando Kahane, global marketing head at PepsiCo, which owns Frito-Lay, calls the connection between Doritos fans and the gaming community “undeniable.” 

“Both boldly and unapologetically embrace their individual flavors,” Kahane said in a statement. “‘Doritos Silent’ recognizes this bond and demonstrates the brand’s continued commitment to innovation and elevating the experience for gamers who choose Doritos.”

Dylan Fashbaugh, the lead developer at Smooth Technology, said working on the crunch cancellation has been “an incredible journey.”

“We all know that gamers love Doritos, but that unmistakable crunch can often disrupt those intense gaming moments,” Fashbaugh said. “With ‘Doritos Silent,’ we’ve worked to ensure gamers can enjoy the crunch of Doritos without disturbing their fellow players, making for a better gaming experience.”

The PC software (sorry Mac users) can be downloaded here. Its release isn’t coming out of the blue—Doritos teased the idea of “making Doritos silent” with a social media and out-of-home campaign featuring Doritos chips in place of noise-cancelling headphones. The campaign, released in the U.S., U.K., SpainPolandBrazil, and Portugal, promised that “you won’t hear it coming.”

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