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.”

Product Review

From tables to porches, Ring's Stick Up Cam watches wherever you want

Ring’s latest home security camera offers more versatility than ever before, with the ability to mount it, set it on a table, or put it inside or outside. We got a chance to test it out. Here’s how it went.
Smart Home

OK Google, what else can you do? The best tips and tricks for Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Emerging Tech

FDA warns about the dangers of anti-aging blood transfusions

It turns out injecting old people with blood from healthy youngsters may not be the answer to health rejuvenation. That’s according to the FDA, which says such claims are dangerous junk science.
Business

Can Amazon deliver on plan to slash carbon footprint of shipments?

Amazon has announced an ambitious plan to halve its shipment carbon footprint by 2030. The company says improvements in electric vehicles, aviation bio fuels, reusable packaging, and renewable energy make the goal reachable.
Emerging Tech

Japanese spacecraft will collect a sample from asteroid Ryugu by shooting at it

The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 will soon touch down on the asteroid Ryugu, where it will collect a sample by shooting a bullet into the soil. The sample will be returned to Earth in 2020 to learn about the formation of asteroids.
Emerging Tech

Hong Kong’s vision for a smart prison is a full-blown Orwellian nightmare

Hong Kong wants to bring prisons up to date by introducing new location-tracking wristbands for inmates, and a robot arm whose job is to comb through poop on the lookout for contraband.
Emerging Tech

We tried a $500 electronic dab rig, and now we can’t go back to normal vaporizers

Induction heating is the future of cannabis vaporizers. Loto Labs wowed us with what likely is the best concentrate vaporizer on the market today. With a $500 price tag, it's expensive, but it should definitely be your next dab rig.
Emerging Tech

No faking! Doctors can now objectively measure how much pain you’re in

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have discovered the blood biomarkers that can objectively reveal just how much pain a patient is in. Here's why that's so important.
Emerging Tech

SeaBubbles’ new electric hydrofoil boat is the aquatic equivalent of a Tesla

What do you get if you combine a Tesla, a flying car, and a sleek boat? Probably something a bit like SeaBubbles, the French "flying" boat startup which offers a fresh spin on the hydrofoil.
Emerging Tech

Israel will launch world’s first privately funded moon mission tomorrow

This week will see the world's first privately funded lunar mission launch. Israel's first mission to the moon will be launched aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket on Thursday, February 21.
Emerging Tech

Here’s where to watch this week’s SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral

If you've been following the SpaceX launch calendar, you know this week marks the first launch from Cape Canaveral in two months. We have the details on where you can watch the launch live.
Emerging Tech

Bees can do arithmetic, setting the scientific community abuzz

A new study has found something remarkable: Bees can do basic arithmetic. Researchers showed that bees could use colors as representations for numbers and then use those colors for addition and subtraction.
Emerging Tech

DeepSqueak is a machine learning A.I. that reveals what rats are chatting about

Want to know what rats are squeaking about? You'd better check out DeepSqueak, the new deep learning artificial intelligence developed by researchers at the University of Washington.
Health & Fitness

Immune cell discovery takes us one step closer to a universal flu vaccine

A group of international researchers have made a discovery which could take us one step closer to the universal, one-shot flu vaccine that people around the world have been dreaming of.