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Sensory Demos Awesome AI Mashup at Finovate!

September 28, 2017

Finovate is one of those shows where you get up on stage and give a short intro and live demo. They are selective in who they allow to present and many applicants are rejected. Sensory demonstrated some really cutting-, perhaps bleeding-, edge stuff by combining animated talking avatars, with text-to-speech, lip movement synchronization, natural language speech recognition and face and voice biometrics. I don’t know of any company ever combining so many AI technologies into a single product or demo!

Speech recognition has a long history of failing on stage, and one of the ways Sensory has always differentiated itself, is that our demos always work! And all our AI technologies worked here too! Even with bright backlighting, our TrulySecure face recognition was so fast and accurate some missed it. With the microphones and echo’s in the large room, our TrulyNatural speech recognition was perfect! That said, we did have a user-error… before Jeff and I got on stage he put his demo phone in DND mode, which cut our audio output – but quickly recovered from that mishap.


Google Play Statistics Shows Ease of Use Correlates to Biometric Ratings

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:

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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.

 

Guest Blog – Rise of the Machines (Learning)

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!

Bernard Brafman
Vice President of Business Development

Banks Looking to Biometrics for Improved Customer Security

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.

TrulySecure From Sensory Becomes First Face and Voice Biometrics Technology to be FIDO UAF Certified

August 20, 2015

Santa Clara, Calif., – August 20, 2015 – TrulySecure Multimodal Biometric Authentication from Sensory, Inc. Has Been Fully Tested and Certified for Compliance with the FIDO Universal Authentication Framework Specifications V1.0

Sensory Inc., a Silicon Valley based company focused on improving the user experience and security of consumer electronics through state-of-the-art embedded voice and vision technologies, today announced that its TrulySecure™ is the first multimodal face and voice biometric authentication software to be FIDO Certified™. The FIDO (Fast Identification Online) Alliance tested TrulySecure for compliance with the FIDO UAF (Universal Authentication Framework) 1.0 specifications, which determines that implementations of the FIDO specification are uniform across products and that those products are interoperable with other products and services that support the FIDO 1.0 specifications.

“We recognize Sensory for building TrulySecure to be fully compliant with the FIDO Universal Authentication Framework specifications and are excited to add their innovative multimodal biometric authentication solution to the FIDO Alliance’s prestigious roster of FIDO UAF Certified authenticators,” said Brett McDowell, FIDO Alliance executive director. “As more enterprises, application developers and mobile device makers shift away from password authentication, solutions like Sensory’s TrulySecure multimodal biometric authentication software will continue to prove valuable as an essential, secure means of authenticating users and keeping their data safeguarded.”

Working with the FIDO Alliance to certify compliance with FIDO standards and interoperability of TrulySecure demonstrates Sensory’s commitment to advancing the current state of user authentication, by ensuring that the industry’s most secure multimodal face and voice authentication software can be easily integrated within authentication solutions from FIDO Certified™ providers. Sensory joined the FIDO Alliance in early 2015 to work alongside other companies eager to create more secure user authentication protocols. Sensory has been a strong supporter of the FIDO Alliance since its inception and has worked with companies like Nok Nok Labs to ensure the biometric authenticator portion of their authentication solution, powered by TrulySecure from Sensory, was fully compliant with FIDO UAF 1.0 specs.

“Sensory’s TrulySecure is a great example of what can be delivered with multimodal biometrics and we are happy to support the solution within our own FIDO Certified S3 Authentication Suite,” said Ramesh Kesanupalli, founder of Nok Nok Labs and FIDO visionary. “Enterprises are looking for turnkey user solutions that offer a mix of authentication methods. Working with Sensory allows Nok Nok Labs to provide its customers with a greater variety of solutions that offer superior security compared to vulnerable passwords.”

TrulySecure leverages Sensory’s deep strengths in speech processing, computer vision, and machine learning. The combination of face recognition and speaker verification to authenticate a specific individual allows users to rest assured that their device is secure, without the hassle of fumbling around with a fingerprint reader or entering a password or PIN every time they want to access it or authenticate to sites and services. Consistent with FIDO standards, TrulySecure is an on-device biometric not requiring a cloud connection. Embedded authentication is a preferred approach for consumers and businesses that don’t want their biometric information stored outside of their personal devices. Embedded biometric solutions are also preferred for their higher security and reliability compared to cloud based systems, which have proven to be vulnerable to hackers and break-ins, and undependable in low-signal/no Internet environments. In addition to the security and dependability benefits of being embedded, TrulySecure further safeguards devices and data by requiring two forms of biometrics, making it at least twice as secure as even the best fingerprint readers found on mobile devices.

The advantages of TrulySecure when compared to other biometric authentication methods include:

  • Simple touch-free authentication – users do not need to tap a screen or swipe a finger, just look at the screen and say the passphrase
  • Its fast! – embedded within software or on device, TrulyHandsfree does not require an Internet or cloud connection to work and responds instantly
  • Robust to environmental changes – works in real-world situations, including low light or high noise environments
  • Nearly impenetrable by imposters – unlike fingerprint readers, which are vulnerable to spoofing, TrulySecure features anti-spoofing techniques to eliminate the chances of an intruder getting access
  • No additional hardware costs – TrulySecure only requires a device have a microphone and a camera; nearly all smartphones, tablets and PCs already feature these components
  • No hardware to wear out – biometric sensors, such as fingerprint readers, wear out with use; since TrulyHandsfree does not rely on special sensors, there is no risk of authentication hardware failure

“We at Sensory are huge supporters of the work the FIDO Alliance has done to create an exciting consortium focused on streamlining user transactions with on-device biometrics,” said Todd Mozer, chairman and CEO of Sensory, Inc. “Promoting biometrics for more than two decades, we are pleased that our TrulySecure technology has become the first multimodal face and vision biometrics technology to be awarded the status of FIDO Certified. By working with companies across the entire authentication ecosystem to certify the interoperability of their FIDO Certified technologies with TrulySecure, we have made it even easier for companies to integrate the industry’s easiest to use and most secure biometric authentication technology within their products.”

For more information about this announcement, Sensory or its technologies, please contact sales@sensory.com; Press inquiries: press@sensory.com

# # #

About The FIDO Alliance
The FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance, was formed in July 2012 to address the lack of interoperability among strong authentication technologies, and remedy the problems users face with creating and remembering multiple usernames and passwords. The FIDO Alliance is changing the nature of authentication with standards for simpler, stronger authentication that define an open, scalable, interoperable set of mechanisms that reduce reliance on passwords. FIDO authentication is stronger, private, and easier to use when authenticating to online services with FIDO Certified™ products and services.

About Nok Nok Labs
Nok Nok Labs provides organizations with the ability to bring strong, FIDO-based authentication infrastructure to their mobile and web applications. The Nok Nok Labs S3 Authentication Suite enables organizations to accelerate revenues, reduce fraud, and strengthen security. Nok Nok Labs is a founding member of the FIDO Alliance with customers and partners that include NTT DoCoMo, PayPal, Alipay, Samsung and Lenovo. For more information, visit www.noknok.com.

Spoofing Biometrics

July 25, 2014

I see a bit of irony that a great Saturday Night Live alumnus is launching a campaign to decrease spoofing. I’m talking about Senator Al Franken, who has been looking into the problem of stolen fingerprints, see article.

Senator Franken challenges Samsung and Apple with some fair concerns about the problem of stolen or spoofed biometrics. The issue is that most biometrics that could be stolen can’t be easily replaced. We only have one face, two eyes, and 10 fingers, so not a lot of chances to replace or change them if they are stolen.

The mobile phone companies, challenged on the fingerprint issue, had two responses:

  1. The biometric data is ON DEVICE. This is very important because when it’s stored in the clouds it becomes much more accessible to a hacker AND much more desirable because the payoff is a whole lot of user information. Cloud security is often hacked into, such as the recent break-in of the European Central Bank. In fact many banks I have spoken to insist that passwords can’t be stored in the clouds because they are just too easy to hack that way.
  2. The fingerprint biometric is not stored as a fingerprint image, but as some sort of mathematical representation. I’m not sure I understand this argument because if the digital representation can be copied and replicated, then the system is cracked whether or not it looks like a fingerprint.

I think Franken is right to question the utility of biometric fingerprints, because a product like Sensory’s TrulySecure (combining voice and vision authentication) offers a large number of advantages:

  1. The TrulySecure biometric is not easy to copy or find. Unlike a fingerprint which gets left everywhere, a voice print with a video image of a person saying a particular phrase is NOT easy to find, and even if well recorded, would fall apart with Sensory’s anti-spoofing technology that requires a live image.
  2. The TrulySecure biometric is readily changeable. Unlike the nine chances that a user has to replace a fingerprint, there are a virtually unlimited number of TrulySecure password phrases that can be used. If by some nearly impossible chance a TrulySecure biometric phrase is copied, it can be changed in a matter of seconds and a virtually unlimited number of times.
  3. TrulySecure works across conditions. Every biometric seems to have a failure mode. Fingerprint sensors seem to require a highly directionalized swipe of a very clean finger. If I cut my finger or have a little peanut butter on it, it just doesn’t work. Likewise a voiceprint by itself might fail in high noise, and a faceprint might fail in low lighting, but that magical dual biometric fusion in TrulySecure seems immune to conditions.

Here’s a demo I gave to UberGizmo in a somewhat dark and very noisy hotel lobby. I like this demo because it shows a real world situation and how FAST TrulySecure works.

Here’s a more canned demo on Sensory’s home page that better showcases some of the anti-spoofing features.

Random Blogger Thoughts

June 30, 2014

  • TrulySecure™ is now announced!!!! This is the first on device fusion of voice and vision for authentication, and it really works AMAZINGLY well. I’m so proud of our new computer vision team and in Sensory’s expansion from speech recognition to speech and vision technologies. Now we are much more than “The Leader in Speech Technologies for Consumer Electronics”- we are “The Leader in Speech and Vision Technology for Consumer Products!” Hey check out the new TrulySecure video on our home page, and our new TrulySecure Product Brief. We hope and expect that TrulySecure will have the same HUGE impact on the market as Sensory had with TrulyHandsfree, the technology that pioneered always on touch less control!
  • Google I/O. Android wants to be everywhere: in our cars, in our homes, and in our phones. They are willing to spend billions of dollars to do it. Why? To observe our behaviors, which in turn will help provide us more of what we want…and they will also assist in those purchases. Of course this is what Microsoft and Apple and others want as well, but right now Google has the best cloud based voice experience, and if you ask me it’s the best user experience that will win the game. Seems like they should try and move ahead on the client, but lucky for Sensory we are staying ahead!
  • Rumors about Samsung acquiring Nuance…Why would they spend $7B for Nuance when they can pick up a more unique solution from Sensory for only $1B? Yeah, that’s a joke, and is definitely not intended as an offer or solicitation to sell Sensory!
  • OH! Sensory has a new logo! We made it to celebrate our 20 year anniversary!