Archive for the ‘Security’ Category
August 22, 2016
Sensory is proud to announce that it has been awarded with two 2016 Speech Tech Magazine Awards. With some stiff competition in the speech industry, Sensory continues to excel in offering the industry’s most advanced embedded speech recognition and speech-based security solutions for today’s voice-enabled consumer electronics movement.
The 2016 Speech Technology Awards include:
Speech Luminary Award – Awarded to Sensory’s CEO, Todd Mozer
“What really impresses me about Todd is his long commitment to speech technology, and specifically, his focus on embedded and small-footprint speech recognition,” says Deborah Dahl, principal at Conversational Technologies and chair of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Multimodal Interactions Working Group. “He focuses on what he does best and excels at that.”
Star Performers Award – Awarded to Sensory for its contributions in enabling voice-enabled IoT products via embedded technologies
“Sensory has always been in the forefront of embedded speech recognition, with its TrulyHandsfree product, a fast, accurate, and small-footprint speech recognition system. Its newer product, TrulyNatural, is ground- breaking because it supports large vocabulary speech recognition and natural language understanding on embedded devices, removing the dependence on the cloud,” said Deborah Dahl, principal at Conversational Technologies and chair of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Multimodal Interactions Working Group. “While cloud-based recognition is the right solution for many applications, if the application must work regardless of connectivity, embedded technology is required. The availability of TrulyNatural embedded natural language understanding should make many new types of applications possible.”
– Guest Blog by Michael Farino
July 19, 2016
Cybersecurity was an important topic at Mobile World Congress Shanghai. I was invited to join a panel with cybersecurity experts from Intel, Huawei, NEC, Nokia, and Ericsson with commentary by a McKinsey analyst. Peter O’Neil, a biometrics industry expert and CEO of FindBiometrics, led the panel. Interestingly, Peter was given a late invitation to lead a Keynote discussion on biometrics (in addition to our pane) when the GSMA decided to put more emphasis on biometrics in response to the broad interest in improving cybersecurity.
I’m about to tell you the painful irony in all this. But first, to get into China I needed a Chinese business visa, and a business visa requires an invitation from a Chinese organization. I was offered an invitation from the GSMA and they had a very effective system for filling out an online form and submitting it to them, all in the process of registering as a speaker. This quickly produced a formal invitation that I could use for my VISA application.
On July 7th I received an email that began as follows:
Dear Mobile World Congress Shanghai Attendee:
The GSMA today confirmed that an individual or individuals made unauthorized access to a database system managed by a third-party supplier for Mobile World Congress Shanghai. The system has now been secured and the supplier has provided the GSMA access to its system to conduct a thorough analysis of the incident.
The system that was accessed contained information on Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2016 attendees, including name, company, mobile number, email address and password used for registration and, for those attendees that requested a visa invitation letter from the GSMA, their passport details.
It was really that last line about passport details that upset me. The other information on me is fairly easy to find, but my passport details? I did some Internet searching and called the US Department of State, and I concluded that lost or stolen passports need to be reported immediately, but stolen information from them is only optional to report. So maybe it’s not a big deal. I’m still not sure.
But what if my biometric data had been used as online ID and had been compromised?
Biometrics offers a more convenient and more secure solution than passwords. However as a result of their uniqueness and intrinsic nature to an individual, biometrics are much more sensitive and (except for voice passwords) are not easy to change. For example, we only have two eyes, so if one’s retinal scan (or periocular region, or iris, etc.) is compromised, then we only get one more try. With face we only have one, with fingers 10, etc. This difficulty in changing the biometric leads to a need for “liveness testing” to make sure it isn’t a stolen biometric without a real person behind it. But advances in spoofing approaches (rubber fingers, etc.) force liveness tests to impede the natural convenience of biometrics with unnatural behaviors following random requests.
There’s no real easy solution, but placing the biometric on device is certainly a step in the right direction by keeping it out of the cloud or accessible servers and in a less accessible zone, such as a trusted execution environment (TEE) within a chip on the device the user has (e.g. smart phone).
The FIDO Alliance (Fast ID Online) Alliance, has been gaining much momentum. FIDO has laid out standards for a user authentication framework (UAF) for passwordless security that, as part of the FIDO spec, requires the biometric to be stored on-device. On-device authentication and FIDO works well for verifying a person (confirming one from one). Performing identification (one out of many) can be done on device for small numbers, like differentiating between family members, but it becomes impractical for things like passport control without a passport where a camera looks at you and just knows who you are out of billions of people.
Security itself comes from something we have (like a passport), something we know (like a PIN/password or a key questions answer), and something we are (the biometric in us).
So, I think passports will be around for a while, but maybe they will become a software app on my mobile phone that provides the have, are, and know. I’d like my Chinese visa there too!
May 6, 2016
Rich Nass and Barbara Quinlan from Open Systems Media visited Sensory on their “IoT Roadshow”.
IoT is a very interesting area. About 10 years ago we saw voice controlled IoT on the way, and we started calling the market SCIDs – Speech Controlled Internet Devices. I like IoT better, it’s certainly a more popular name for the segment! ;-)
I started our meeting off by talking about Sensory’s three products – TrulyHandsfree Voice Control, TrulySecure Authentication, and TrulyNatural large vocabulary embedded speech recognition.
Although TrulyHandsfree is best known for its “always on” capabilities, ideal for listening for key phrases (like OK Google, Hey Cortana, and Alexa), it can be used a ton of other ways. One of them is for hands-free photo taking, so no selfie stick is required. To demonstrate, I put my camera on the table and took pictures of Barbara and Rich. (Normally I might have joined the pictures, but their healthy hair, naturally good looks, and formal attire was too outclassing for my participation).
There’s a lot of hype about IoT and Wearables and I’m a big believer in both. That said, I think Amazon’s Echo is the perfect example of a revolutionary product that showcases the use of speech recognition in the IoT space and am looking forward to some innovative uses of speech in Wearables!
Here’s the article they wrote on their visit to Sensory and an impromptu video showing TrulyNatural performing on-device navigation, as well as a demo of TrulySecure via our AppLock Face/Voice Recognition app.
Rich Nass, Embedded Computing Brand Director
If you’re an IoT device that requires hands-free operation, check out Sensory, just like I did while I was OpenSystems Media’s IoT Roadshow. Sensory’s technology worked flawlessly running through the demo, as you can see in the video. We ran through two different products, one for input and one for security.
March 28, 2016
Just saw an interesting article on www.eweek.com
Covers a consumer survey about being connected and particularly with IoT devices. What’s interesting is that those surveyed were technically savvy (70% were self-described as intermediate or advanced with computers, and 83% said they could set up their own router), yet the survey found:
1) 68 percent of consumers expressed concern about security risks such as viruses, malware and hackers;
These concerns are quite understandable, since we as consumers tend to give away many of our data rights in return for free services and software.
People have asked me if embedded speech and other embedded technologies will continue to persist if our cloud connections get better and faster, and the privacy issues are one of the reasons why embedded is critical.
This is especially true for “always on” devices that listen for triggers; if the always on listening is in the cloud, then everything we discuss around the always on mics goes into the cloud to be analyzed and potentially collected!
February 22, 2016
Recently Peter O’Niel at FindBiometrics interviewed our CEO Todd Mozer about Sensory’s recent announcement of TrulySecure 2.0, check out the interview here: FindBiometrics
Summary: The industry is embracing biometrics faster than ever and many CE companies and app developers are embracing face and voice biometrics to improve user experience and bolster security. Face and voice offers significant advantages over other biometric modalities, notably when it comes to convenience, and particularly in the case of our TrulySecure technology, accuracy and security.
Sensory’s TrulySecure technology has evolved dramatically since its release and recently we announced TrulySecure 2.0 that actually utilizes real world usage data collected from our “AppLock by Sensory” app on the Google Play store. By applying what we learned with AppLock, we were able to adapt a deep learning approach using convolutional neural networks to improve the accuracy of our face authentication. Additionally, we significantly improved the performance of our speaker verification in real world conditions by training better neural nets based on the collected data.
Overall, we have been able to update TrulySecure’s already excellent performance to be even better! The solution is now faster, smarter and more secure, and is the most accurate face and voice biometrics solution available.
December 8, 2015
I saw an interesting press release titled “EyeVerify Gets Positive Feedback From Curious Users”. I know this company as a fellow biometrics vendor selling into some of the same markets as Sensory. I also knew that their Google Playstore rating hovered around a 3/5 rating while our AppLock app hits around a 4/5 rating, so I was curious about what this announcement meant. It made me think of the power of all the data in the Google Playstore, and I decided to take a look at biometric ratings in general to see if there were any interesting conclusions.
Here’s my methodology…I conducted searches for applications in Google Play that use biometrics to lock applications or other things. I wanted the primary review to relate to the biometric itself, so I excluded “pranks” and other apps that provided something other than biometric security. I also rejected apps with less than 5,000 downloads to insure that friends, employees and families weren’t having a substantive effect on the ratings. I ran a variety of searches for four key biometrics: Eyes, Face, Fingerprint and Voice.
I did not attempt to exhaust the entire list of biometric apps, I searched under a variety of terms until I had millions of downloads for each category with a minimum of 25,000 reviews for each category. The “eye” was the only biometric category that couldn’t meet this criteria, as I had to be satisfied with 6,884 reviews. Here’s a summary chart of my findings:
As you can see, this shows the total number of downloads, the total number of apps/companies, the number of reviews and the avg rating of reviews per biometric category. So, for example, Face had 11 applications with 1.75 million total downloads and just over 25,000 reviews with an average review rating of 3.89.
What’s most interesting to me about the findings is that it points to HIGHER RATINGS FOR EASIER TO USE BIOMETRICS. This is a direct correlation as Face comes in first and is clearly the easiest biometric to use Voice is somewhat more intrusive as a user must speak, and the rating drops by .16 to 3.73, though this segment does seem to receive the most consumer interest with more than 5-million downloads. Finger is today’s most common biometric but is often criticized by its 2-hand requirement and that it often fails, requiring users to re-swipe, consumer satisfaction with fingerprint is about 3.67. Eye came in last, albeit with the least data, but numbers don’t lie, and the average consumer rating for that biometric comes in at about 3.42. If you consider the large number of reviews in this study and the narrow range of review scores (which typically range from 2.5 to 4.5), the statistically significant nature becomes apparent.
The results were not really a surprise to me. When we first developed TrulySecure, it was based on the premise that users wanted a more convenient biometric without sacrificing security, so we focused on COMBINING the two most convenient biometrics (face and voice) to produce a combined security that could match the most stringent of requirements.
November 12, 2015
A really smart guy told me years ago that neural networks would prove to be the second best solution to many problems. While he was right about lots of stuff, he missed that one! Out of favor for years, neural networks have enjoyed a resurgence fueled by advances in deep machine learning techniques and the processing power to implement them. Neural networks are now seen to be the leading solution to a host of challenges around mimicking how the brain recognizes patterns.
Google’s Monday announcement that it was releasing its TensorFlow machine learning system on an open-source basis underscores the significance of these advances, and further validates Sensory’s 22 year commitment to machine learning and neural networks. TensorFlow is intended to be used broadly by researchers and students “wherever researchers are trying to make sense of very complex data — everything from protein folding to crunching astronomy data”. The initial release of TensorFlow will be a version that runs on a single machine, and it will be put into effect for many computers in the months ahead, Google said.
Microsoft also had cloud-based machine learning news on Monday, announcing an upgrade to Project Oxford’s facial recognition API launched in May specifically for the Movember Foundation’s no-shave November fundraising effort: a facial hair recognition API that can recognize moustache and beard growth and assign it a rating (as well as adding a moustache “sticker” to the faces of facial hair posers).
Project Oxford’s cloud-based services are based on the same technology used in Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant and the Skype Translator service, and also offer emotion recognition, spell check, video processing for facial and movement detection, speaker recognition and custom speech recognition services.
While Google and Microsoft have announced some impressive machine-learning capabilities in the cloud, Sensory uniquely combines voice and face for authentication and improved intent interpretation on device, complementing what the big boys are doing.
From small footprint neural networks for noise robust voice triggers and phrase-spotted commands, to large vocabulary recognition leveraging a unique neural network with deep learning that achieves acoustic models an order of magnitude smaller than the present state-of-the-art, to convolutional neural networks deployed in the biometric fusion of face and voice modalities for authentication, all on device and not requiring any cloud component, Sensory continues to be the leader in utilizing state-of-the-art machine learning technology for embedded solutions.
Not bad company to keep!
October 16, 2015
I saw a LinkedIn message to one of the biometrics groups in which I’m a member linking to a new video on biometrics:
I was quite surprised to see that I am actually in it!
It’s a great topic…Banks turning to biometrics. The video doesn’t talk too much about what’s really happening and why, so I’ll blog about a few salient points, worthy of understanding:
1) Passwords are on their deathbed. This is old news and everyone gets it, but worthy of repeating. Too easy to crack and/or too hard to remember
2) Mobile is everything, and mobile biometrics will be the entry point. Our mobile phones will be the tools to control and open a variety of things. Our phones will know who we are and keep track of the probability of that changing as we use them. Mobile banking apps will be accessed through biometrics and that will allow us to not only check balances, but pay or send money or speed ATM transactions.
3) EMV credit cards are here…Biometric credit confirmation is next! Did you get a smart card from your bank? Europay, Visa, and MasterCard decided to improve fraud by shifting fraud risk based on security implemented. Smart cards are now, biometrics will be added to aid fraud prevention.
4) It’s all about convenience & security. So much focus has been on security that convenience was often overlooked. There was a perception that you can’t have both! With Biometrics you actually can have an extremely fast and convenient solution that is highly accurate.
5) Layered biometrics will rule. Any one biometric or authentication approach in isolation will fail. The key is to layer a variety of authentication techniques that enhance the systems security but don’t hurt convenience. Voice and face authentication can be used together, passwords can be thrown on top if the biometric confirmation is unsure, tokens or fingerprint or iris scans can also be deployed if the security isn’t high enough. The key is knowing the accuracy of match and increasing the security to the desired security level in a stepped function so as to maximize user convenience.
October 1, 2015
Todd Mozer’s interview with Martin Wasserman on FutureTalk
May 1, 2015
Winning on Accuracy & Speed… How can a tiny player like Sensory compete in deep learning technology with giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Baidu and others?
There’s a number of ways, and let me address them specifically:
These 3 items together have provided Sensory with the highest quality embedded speech engines in the world. It’s worth reiterating why embedded is needed, even if speech recognition can all be done in the cloud: