Monday, May 10, 2010

GM = Google Motors?

Thanks to Dan Miller at Opus Research for bringing this to my attention. I've included a hyper-link back to his original blog of the story.

After Ford showcased the full spectrum SYNC services on a sub-$16K Fiesta (even taking Kara Swisher for a test sit), GM appears prepared to counter with a broad variety of wireless mobile apps offered in conjunction with Google. In this article in Motor Trend Todd Lassa lays out the basics of a relationship whereby the the “open” Android operating system would be licensed for use in GM automobiles.

Lassa asserts that the GM/Google relationship would place emphasis on a better phone-to-car interface, as opposed to the voice control and voice user interface that Microsoft’s Speech Application Group has played up. Thus GM’s approach will enable drivers to use their phones to do such things as start or turn off their cars, lock and unlock doors, and make other adjustments. It was not spelled out explicitly in the article, but given Google’s efforts to invoke automated speech recognition whenever a keyboard comes into play on a mobile device, it is highly likely that all of these functions can be voice controlled – making starting your car another “speechable moment”.

As for the supposition that Android in the car spells the end of OnStar, that is highly unlikely. Lassa notes that turn-by-turn directions through OnStar would become unnecessary because Android phones using Google Maps and a special mount have been successfully deployed for in-car navigation. But OnStar has been sold more as a safety feature and remote diagnostic service. The Android operating system in the car is more likely to augment, rather than compete with OnStar.

The prospects for more automobile-based Android apps is provocative. The car is destined to be the most fertile spawning ground for speech-based apps and the prospects for Android-oriented developers to define a range of “hands-on-the-wheel/eyes-facing-forward” capabilities and activities is very promising. Meanwhile, Ford remains ahead of the game with a well-defined, and now time tested, suite of voice control applications for frequent activities like carrying out phone conversations, messaging and controlling the car’s entertainment system.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Voice Biometrics Conference Next Week

I'll be in the New York area next week for Opus Research's Voice Biometrics Conference.  It's being held at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson. If you're attending and we've not had a chance to meet in person feel free to say hello.  it's not too late to register at  There is a great lineup of speakers and sessions.

You can follow my comments live from the conference on Twitter at or using the tag #voicebiocon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nuance Shutters SpinVox Consumer Service

It's been just over 3 months since Nuance acquired SpinVox, saving the company from a death spiral. Since the acquisition a string of news stories have surfaced about the financial shenanigans that went on at SpinVox prior to Nuance's purchase. It's a shame that Spinvox fell to such lows. They had a great idea and were developing credible technological solutions.

A recent and not too surprising post on SpinVox's website indicates that they will discontinue their consumer offerings allowing them to focus on their carrier and network operator business.

A Twitter post from SpinVox stated: "We regret to inform you that SpinVox is no longer supporting individual user accounts. Your account will expire in 7 days. "

No word yet on what they intend to do with consumer customers of Jott, the Seattle based competitor of SpinVox that Nuance also purchased.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Speaker Authentication using Voice Biometrics - Now's the time!

I'm working on a project for one of my clients who's interested in using voice biometrics to authenticate callers. Voice biometrics uses the unique ways that individuals formulate phonemes to create a voice signature that can be used to validate a person's identity at a later time. It seems that the actual use cases today are fairly narrow, mostly password reset applications such as those from Nuance Communications or access to corporate based auto-attendants.

Based on the research I've been doing for my client, several recent environmental and economic changes make this a compelling time to investigate integrating voice biometric based authentication into your transactional environment.

Three factors make this so:

  • The advent of so many hosted SaaS (software as a service) offerings from experienced voice services firms like Voxeo, TradeHarbor, BeVocal, Convergys, Authentify,, CSIdentity, PhoneFactor and others.

  • Ubiquity of telephones (both land line and cellular) as a transaction end point for authentication across all channels. Even internet based transactions can use outbound phone calls to reach a user to authenticate them.

  • The ability to combine speech recognition and voice authentication to achieve true multi-factor authentication and the corresponding higher confidence in the security provided by using speech recognition to gather content (something the user knows) and voice authentication (some the user is).

The move to SaaS offerings is a real game changer, significantly lowering the barrier of entry by lowering the cost and the integration complexity with existing applications - regardless of the channel. Since it's voice and there is a phone available almost everywhere to use as the authentication end-point there is no need to invest in expensive dedicated hardware like fingerprint scanners and cameras for facial recognition.

When faced with the need for more secure access to transactions across a variety of channels (phone, web, smart phones, etc.) voice based authentication can provide high confidence, secure, multi-factor authentication with a lower capital expenditure, less complexity and quicker time to implementation that any other biometric solution that I've examined.