New Speaker Verification API is Announced

Technology that can make computers and applications more secure by identifying the voice of the persons using them was announced recently by the Speech Recognition API Committee, a consortium of leading technology developers and users.

The Speaker Verification API (SVAPI) version 1.0 is available to software developers and manufacturers for use in applications such as telecommunications, electronic commerce, banking and finance, where the computer system’s ability to identify and verify the voice of an authorized user can meet demanding requirements for secure communications and access to information.

The new API specification helps developers to create solutions that can both identify a speaker’s voice and verify the speaker’s authorization to access information or other computer resources. The open, standard API will expand the market for those solutions by allowing developers to engineer applications that will be compatible and interoperable with systems from different vendors, including customers’ existing information networks and the Internet.

Computer networking leader Novell, Inc., chairs the SVAPI sub-committee responsible for the new API specifications and has played a leading role in its development.

Other members include Dialogic, IBM, ITT Industries, Motorola, Texas Instruments, T-NETIX Inc. and several branches of the US government.

Judith Markowitz, an industry consultant, and also a consortium member, predicted, “the strong vendor support behind SVAPI will make this the natural path for both technology and application developers.”

Elizabeth Boyle, a former executive with Chase Manhattan Bank in New York, added her belief that “speaker verification and identification technology will be a tremendous boon to the banking and electronic commerce industries. I expect to see several high profile security technologies using voice verification this year. This is a high-growth arena with massive potential.”

Customer Networks

The SVAPI is designed to integrate with the client-server applications used by businesses across today’s data and telecommunications networks, including the Internet. The technology can add value to a broad range of Internet and Telephony applications, including Java applications designed for access and distribution across multiple platforms.

Speaker verification and identification technology can provide user-friendly secure access to networks, electronic commerce, stock and bank transactions and many other applications.

Studies show that speaker verification is more effective in most security applications than conventional systems, which ask the user to type a password. Research indicates that 30% of passwords can be guessed by unauthorized users. By contrast, speaker verification and identification technology is capable of error rates of under a few percent.

Vendor Support

“We have been extremely pleased with the industry collaboration on the SVAPI development,” said Bruce Armstrong, chair of the SRAPI committee and manager, Novell Speech Technologies. “Fierce competitors sat down together and hammered out a solution.”

Frank Smead, president of ITT Industries noted “Customer need for SVAPI is strong. In early 1996, our internal API specification was one of our most popular pieces of literature. Based on this evidence of customer demand, we offered this early version of SVAPI to the committee. It was used as a model to get started on the resultant specifications.”

Moshe Yudkowsky, senior systems architect at computer telephony vendor Dialogic Corporation, said “The SVAPI committee has crafted an excellent API, and has paid careful attention to the problems of telecommunications and large-scale developments.”

“Security is of paramount importance in this age of global network computing,” said Stephane Maes, an IBM software architect. “Speaker verification and identification, especially when utilized with other existing security and encryption technologies, will help accelerate the growth in confidence and use of electronic commerce.”

“We are already adapting our efforts to the SVAPI specification, and will release a SVAPI-compliant software development kit in the third quarter,” said Tom Huzjak, CEO of T-NETIX, Inc.

Barry Frankel, CEO of VeriVoice also was pleased with the SVAPI effort. “We are excited to begin working on SAPI prototypes as soon as SVAPI sample code becomes available.”

The SVAPI is free, and can be downloaded from the SVAPI home page at http://www.srapi.com/svapi or by contacting Bruce Armstrong of Novell at 801-222-5119 or by email at Barmstrong@novell.com .

Prototypes using SVAPI will be showcased by several technology vendors in upcoming industry shows and will be available initially for Java and soon thereafter for Windows 95 and Unix.

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