OVOS Listener - WakeWords / HotWords

OVOS uses "wakewords" to activate the system. This is what "hey Google" or "Alexa" is on proprietary devices. By default, OVOS uses the WakeWord "hey Mycroft".

OVOS "hotwords" is the configuration section to specify what the WakeWord do. Multiple "hotwords" can be used to do a variety of things from putting OVOS into active listening mode, a WakeWord like "hey Mycroft", to issuing a command such as "stop" or "wake up"

As with everything else, this too can be changed, and several plugins are available. Some work better than others.

Mike Grey created a great blog post about the WakeWords also.

List of OVOS WakeWord Plugins

Plugin Type Description
ovos-ww-plugin-precise-lite Model The most accurate plugin available as it uses pretrained models and community models are available also
ovos-ww-plugin-openWakeWord Model Uses openWakeWord for detection
ovos-ww-plugin-vosk Full Word Uses full word detection from a loaded model.
ovos-ww-plugin-pocketsphinx Phonomes Probably the least accurate, but can be used on almost any device
ovos-ww-plugin-hotkeys Model Use an input from keyboard or button to emulate a wakeword being said. Useful for privacy, but not so much for a smart speaker.
ovos-ww-plugin-snowboy Model Uses snowboy wakeword engine
ovos-ww-plugin-nyumaya Model WakeWord plugin using Nyumaya


The configuration for wakewords are in the "listener" section of mycroft.conf and configuration of hotwords is in the "hotwords" section of the same file.

This example will use the vosk plugin and change the wake word to "hey Ziggy".

Add the following to your ~/.config/mycroft/mycroft.conf file.

    "listener": {
        "wake_word": "hey_ziggy"
    "hotwords": {
        "hey_ziggy": {
            "module": "ovos-ww-plugin-vosk",
            "sound": "snd/start_listening.wav",
            "debug": false,
            "rule": "fuzzy",
            "lang": "en",
            "samples": [
                "hey ziggy",
                "hay ziggy"
            "threshold": 0.80

Sections explained

The most important section is "wake_word": "hey_ziggy" in the "listener" section.

This tells OVOS what the default wakeword should be.

In the "hotwords" section, "active": true, is only used if multiple wakewords are being used. By default, what ever wake_word is set in the listener section is automatically set to true.

If you want to disable a wakeword, you can set this to false.

If enabling a wakeword, be sure to also set "listen": true.

Multiple hotwords can be configured at the same time, even the same word with different plugins. This allows for more accurate ones to be used before the less accurate, but only if the plugin is installed.

Advanced WakeWords/HotWords