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Voice biometrics to generate encrypted digital certificate in new tech from University of Florida

Voice biometrics to generate encrypted digital certificate in new tech from University of Florida

Your phone knows where you are, but does it really know you? It soon will, via new, patented voice biometrics technology developed by researchers at the University of Florida.

According to a news release, the technology is being called “Here I Am,” and it is designed to provide a “digital alibi” by confirming an individual’s identity and location through voice recognition, in the form of a permanently verifiable, “unforgeable, encrypted digital certificate on a user’s cellular device.”

USF computer science and engineering Professor Sriram Chellappan cited social justice as the motivation behind the technology, and said the technology could be used by the wrongly accused to authenticate their location, or by companies to monitor or protect their employees.

“Most location authentication technologies today mainly authenticate a device, such as a phone, but not the user. Nothing like this exists,” says USF Professor of Information Systems and Management Balaji Padmanabhan, who partnered with Chellappan on the project. “If companies with reliable location identification can offer this as a service, then individual users can easily generate their own authentication as needed and companies, such as ridesharing platforms and financial institutions, can integrate the technology directly into their apps for their employees as an extra layer of protection.”

In prototype, Here I Am generates a biometric authentication certificate by recording the voice of a user reading a specific message out loud, and pairing this audio with date, time and precise location data. The ID certificate is stored permanently on the user’s device. Three modes are available: solo, which lets an individual voluntarily authenticate themselves; a binary option where administrators can request authentication from users (for example, employees or students taking an exam); and an ambient mode that captures a user’s location regularly every few minutes.

“The demand to certifiably authenticate a person or an asset at a particular location at any point in time has immense value,” Chellappan said. “Our technology could be a game changer [for an] immense diversity of practical applications.”

A 2021 report from MarketsandMarkets predicted that the market for voice biometrics will more than triple from 2020 to 2026, reaching $3.9 billion. Last year, McDonald’s and IBM started a partnership, after the computer giant purchased the burger chain’s biometric voice recognition order-taking software.

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