LumenVox Luminaries is a podcast that broadcasts thought leadership pieces on the subject of voice technology. This episode features Dr. Clive Summerfield, LumenVox Managing Director of EMEA-ANZ, discussing a case for active voice biometrics with his perspective on the specific benefits of Active Voice Biometrics.
You can connect with Clive on LinkedIn here.
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I’m Clive Summerfield, Managing Director for LumenVox EMEA [Europe, Middle East, Africa] Australia and New Zealand, and I’m here to talk about Active Voice Biometrics. Many of you may have actually heard about Voice Biometrics, and I’m here to talk about the particular benefits of Active Voice Biometrics as opposed to Passive Voice Biometrics.
Q: What is Voice Biometrics?
Voice biometrics is a technology that allows a system to authenticate the identity of a person from an analysis of their voice. Like your fingerprint, your voice is unique. And so, like your fingerprint voice can be used as a very powerful technology for authenticating the identity of the speaker: you actually are who you say you are. And that’s a literal statement; the voice and the sound wave that emanates from your lips and your nostrils contains within it an acoustic signature that is unique to that individual speaker. And that in a nutshell is what Voice Biometrics is all about.
Voice biometrics comes in two flavors, essentially. There’s Active and Passive Voice Biometrics. Active is where a system asks you a specific question, and you have to answer that question with the correct voice. The obvious one here is a phrase like “My voice is my password,” but it can be anything—it can be your name; it can be your date of birth; it can be your address, your zip code or here in the UK your post code. It could be an account number or your telephone number. So this is where Active Voice Biometrics is Actively verifying your identity from a phrase that you’re actually saying. In Active Voice Biometrics you have to say the correct phrase with the correct voice. Now Passive on the other hand is a technology that sits in the background and listens to a conversation. Passive Voice Biometrics is, as the name implies, passively listening to a conversation and just understanding the voice characteristics of the speakers to recognize who the speakers are.
Q: Where is Active Voice Biometrics most appropriate?
The ideal application for Active Voice Biometrics is in telephone self-service and particularly for authenticating identity of speakers using IVR systems, particularly self-service applications—such as banking applications, government applications, applications for retail and telecommunications services. So in those applications the IVR prompts you for a piece of information. “Please say your telephone number.” And you have to say the correct telephone number with the correct voice in order to positively authenticate your identity, giving you a very strong level of surety that the speaker is the account holder and not an imposter trying to break into your accounts.
I feel like the big application for Active Voice Biometrics has been in telephone-based password reset. And there are numerous examples of Active Voice Biometrics being used for telephone password reset applications, and those are principally in help desks and internal-facing employee helpdesk applications and services. But Active Voice Biometrics is far more than just a password reset application; it is also a password replacement technology where voice can be used instead of passwords for many applications. These include IVR telephone self- service chat bots and increasingly online services and IOT devices.
Q: What about the future of Active?
Well, there is good news in that voice interactions are growing in the world, I mean, despite the demise of telephone call centers, the growth in voice communications is growing exponentially at the moment. According to Gartner, 30% of all searches are now voice-driven which tells you where voice communications is going in the future. So the digital channel is where all the action is actually going to be in the near term.
And whilst Active still has a very important role to play in telephone services, the future of Active is actually in the digital channel. Now digital channels are almost by definition driven by phrases and single phrases, which is where Active has very strong application over and above Passive. So Active is the only technology in the digital channel that is applicable for things like second-factor authentication. I like to think that Voice Biometrics and Active Voice Biometrics is actually the world’s best second-factor authentication which can be used to augment things like PINs and passwords that are traditionally stored up now in browsers. Active Voice Biometrics can be very effectively applied in digital channels and particularly in second factor authentication for browsers channels.
One of the big applications for Active Voice Biometrics is capturing voice through the browser as somebody is accessing a secure website such as Internet banking and other services of that nature, to positively authenticate that the person who is actually the account holder. This provides a much stronger security credential than PINs or passwords on their own. And Active is unique in so far that it’s the only technology that can harmonize the authentication between the emerging digital channels and the legacy telephone channels. You can use the same phrase in a digital channel as you can in a telephone channel. There’s no other biometric technology that provides this type of flexibility which means that organizations can harmonize their authentication strategies across all their customer service channels thereby providing a much more effective customer service experience.