Biometrics refers to the measurement of physiological and behavioral characteristics typically used to identify specific users. Such physiological characteristics can include the face, fingerprints, and even DNA. Behavioral characteristics can include digital signatures, voiceprints, and gaits. This emerging technology is growing rapidly. The market for biometric authentication based on voice and facial recognition is expected to be worth $3.5 billion by 2015.
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Sensory Inc. offers speech and vision technologies that are licensed to consumer product manufacturers, including the leaders in mobile, automotive, wearables, toys, and various home electronics. The company just launched TrulySecure, a combined voice and vision biometric authentication technology for smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Company founder, CEO, and chair Todd F. Mozer recently offered his observations.
Wong: Why are Sensory’s TrulySecure combined voice and vision verification solutions for mobile phones better alternatives to passwords and PIN codes?
Mozer: TrulySecure provides a high level of device or application security to users, without the hassle of entering a password or PIN every time they want to access it. Devices often go unlocked because consumers generally find it cumbersome to use PINs and passwords to lock them, and when PINs are used, they are often easy to crack through repeated attempts of the most common four-digit strings. Sensory’s combined biometric authentication provides a high level of security, yet the advantage is that it is more convenient and faster than entering a password or PIN, so people will use it.
Wong: What are the advantages over a fingerprint swipe?
Mozer: Consumer acceptance has been poor because of the need to frequently re-swipe the finger to gain access. In one instance, one of our local Bay Area reporters posted a video of his swipe attempts to gain entry to his smartphone. It took him four retries until he was successful.
Fingerprint ID has also been controversial due to the ease of cracking. A “fake” fingerprint can be created to crack and gain access to the phone, whereas our TrulySecure solution can’t easily be cracked because it has built in anti-spoofing approaches. Our “liveness” test on vision includes skin textural mapping that distinguishes between a live person and traditional graphic image. If an ultra-high-def image is to be used, we can also add subtle motion analyses that allow mouth movement, blinking, and other natural movements to prove liveness.
Wong: Are there any other drawbacks to fingerprint ID that are not widely known?
Mozer: Yes. For the smartphone manufacturer, the added cost for the fingerprint verification feature is typically $5 to $10 per phone, making it expensive to implement. Sensory’s approach uses the existing microphone and camera so there is no added hardware cost, making it applicable for lower-cost devices, while improving on accuracy across a wide range of environmental conditions. Also, there have been concerns raised about losing biometrics because they are difficult to change. So for fingerprint, you only get 10 times to lose them. Because TrulySecure combines face with speech, you have a unlimited number of phrases that can be trained to biometrically unlock devices.
Wong: What are some other highlights of the TrulySecure solution?
Mozer: As a combined biometric solution of both voice and vision, it offers better security. Adding the second biometric of face recognition not only increases the security level, it makes the system more robust to environmental disturbances, such as low light or high noise, that could render a system using only one of these biometric modes useless.
Also, similar to fingerprint ID, TrulySecure is an on-device biometric not requiring a cloud connection. This is a preferred approach for consumers who don’t want their biometric information stored outside their personal devices. Embedded biometrics are also the preferred approaches for higher security because cloud-based systems are easier to hack and break into.
This authentication solution is a sophisticated technology leveraging our strengths in speech processing, computer vision, and machine learning. It is available to OEM product developers in an SDK (software development kit) that combines our world-class speaker verification technology with our newly developed, proprietary, state-of-the-art face recognition engine. In addition to smartphones, TrulySecure can also be deployed in tablets and PCs.
Todd F. Mozer is founder, CEO, and chairman of Sensory Inc., a leading supplier of embedded speech and vision technologies for consumer electronics and mobile devices. He has spent over 20 years in the field of speech technology and has worked in Silicon Valley high-tech companies in positions of sales, marketing, product development, and general management. He also has received over a dozen patents in speech technology. He holds an MBA from Stanford University and bachelor’s degrees from UC Santa Barbara.