New voice ID system reads throat vibrations to determine who’s speaking

vauth voice id 1
University of Michigan
We live in a world in which technology that can recognize and respond to spoken words, whether it’s smart speakers like Google Home or dictation services on our PCs, is an everyday matter. But while there have been attempts to make systems that will respond only to one person’s voice, these are not infallible.

That’s an issue that a new research project carried out at the University of Michigan sets out to resolve. Investigators there have created an authentication technology called VAuth, which promises accurate person-specific voice recognition that no talented impressionist, recording or voice-mimicking A.I. is going to be able to get past. It does this via a wearable accessory — which currently takes the form of either a necklace, ear buds, or a glasses attachment — and that uses an accelerometer to measure the subtle skin vibrations in a person’s face, throat, or chest when they talk. It’s these vibrations, combined with the sound, which then provides a unique identifier for each person. In other words, it doesn’t just confirm that these are your own words, but that they are emerging from your own throat, too.

vauth voice id 37628131542 2be95c81ba o

“VAuth does not rely on voice identification, rather it complements voice identification technologies by providing a physical assurance using the vibrations collected from the user’s body,” Kang Shin, a professor in the electrical engineering and computer science department, told Digital Trends. “That’s a departure from relying only on a voice biometric which, similar to a fingerprint, is not easy to keep protected. From a few recordings of the user’s voice, an attacker can impersonate the user by generating a matching ‘voice print,’ such as WaveNet from DeepMind. In such a case, the users can do little to regain their security as they cannot simply change their voice.”

In tests involving 18 users and 30 different vocal commands, VAuth was able to demonstrate an accuracy of 97 percent, regardless of a person’s accent, language, or whether they were moving at the time. It also fended off tests to spoof it — such as playback of a person’s actual voice or impersonations.

“There are already many commercial voice assistant products and services, and we expect a lot more to come in future,” Shin continued. “A solution like VAuth is therefore essential. We have built a prototype using off-the-shelf components, which were not designed for our purpose, and tested the VAuth functionality and accuracy. [Next] we are planning to commercialize VAuth. To this end, we are planning to miniaturize the device, and conduct a more thorough evaluation for its robustness and accuracy for various use-cases and environments.”

Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Social Media

Facebook says it unintentionally uploaded email contacts of 1.5 million users

Facebook says that over the last two years it unintentionally uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users as they signed up to the social networking service. The process has ended and the email addresses are being deleted.

The Pixel 3a and 3a XL will be coming to the U.S. with T-Mobile

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

Apple has a weird issue with its second-generation Pencil

Apple has a bizarre issue with its second-generation Pencil. The company says that if it's in charging mode and is positioned close to a car's key fob, interference can prevent the device from unlocking the vehicle.
Emerging Tech

Pepsi, StartRocket team up to launch satellites for energy drink ad in night sky

Pepsi is working with StartRocket to launch an energy drink advertisement into the night sky using miniature satellites. The Russian startup is looking to send its system into orbit in 2021.
Emerging Tech

Public vote opens for new planet name, but Planet McPlanetface won’t fly

The largest unnamed world in our solar system needs an official title, and you can help choose it. The scientists who discovered the icy planetoid recently announced details of a public vote offering three choices.
Emerging Tech

How MIT hacked horticulture to cultivate a hyper-flavorful basil plant

At MIT, Caleb Harper used his personal food computers to alter the climate in which he grew basil. Exposing it light for 24 hours a day changed the flavor profile of the plant, making it spicier and stronger.
Emerging Tech

Watch the fearsome DroneHunter X3 pluck rogue UAVs out of the sky

How do you stop enemy drones in their tracks? DroneHunter X3 is a new autonomous anti-drone technology which outruns and then captures rogue drones in midair. Check it out in action.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX’s main Falcon Heavy booster is lost at sea after falling off drone ship

SpaceX has lost the center core of its Falcon Heavy rocket after a successful mission last week that ended with it landing on a drone ship. SpaceX said rough seas resulted in the rocket toppling over and falling into the ocean.
Emerging Tech

Sweden is building a road that recharges electric buses that drive over it

The Swedish transport administration is exploring special roads which will charge vehicles’ batteries as they drive over them. It will test the idea with a short sample stretch of road.
Emerging Tech

Scientists manage to 3D print an actual heart using human cells

Scientists at Tel Aviv University have achieved a world-first by 3D printing a small-scale heart, complete with blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers. Here's why that's so exciting.
Emerging Tech

Drown out noisy neighbors and rest easy with these white noise machines

Some people are more sensitive to sound during sleep than others. Luckily, there are a number of white noise machines on the market to mask the noise. Here are our five of our current favorites.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and others that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

Watch a pack of SpotMini robot dogs perform a terrifying feat of strength

Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robotic dog is now going around in packs, and the results are somewhat concerning. Check out the video to see what kind of shenanigans 10 of them got up to recently ...