A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

April 29, 2019

Limiting Identify Theft: Pindrop Security’s Voice Authentication

For some, voice assistants scare them due to privacy concerns. I get that. But in my opinion, we already have lost the war when it comes to privacy. Even if you are paranoid enough to go “off-the-grid,” we still know where you are. And let’s face it, going off-the-grid kinda takes the fun out of life. But maybe there is hope after all – this “voicebot.ai” podcast with Vijay Balasubramaniyan, the founder & CEO of Pindrop Security blew my mind.

Vijay explains how audio is so rich that you can determine the source of a phone call from just the “audio characteristics.” These audio characteristics include loss (ie. just a few milliseconds of breaks in speech), noise (ie. delay in providing the speech & the background sounds) & frequency . Pindrop Security’s core technologies use:

1. Deep voice – who you are based on your voice
2. Phone printing – what you have based on the device that you use to speak
3. Behavior printing – what you do based on your behavior

Why should you care? Because identify theft is rampant. And because your providers pepper you with an increasingly set of complex questions to confirm who you are when you contact them. What if both of these issues could be solved? That would be nice, right?

Pindrop Security sells their unique services to your providers – banks, insurance & credit card companies – so that they can authenticate that you are who you say you are based on just the first few sentences you utter when you place a call to them. This Forbes article describes it pretty well. Here’s an excerpt:

The release of Pindrop Passport, a new authentication tool that the startup unveiled on Thursday, is a big first step. Passport scans a caller’s voice, behavior (how they press their phone to input a pin) and the phone’s signature (whether it’s rerouted or from the wrong geography) to come up with risk scores in the time it takes to speak a sentence, the company says. That quick verification process not only reduces fraud but can shave as much as 55 seconds off the average call – equivalent to $1 saved in employee time, and potentially millions annually.

And while technology exists to artificially reproduce someone’s voice, Pindrop Security’s system can distinguish when a voice has been synthetically stitched together due to limits in our ability to simulate a person’s exact vocal chords…