Voice Verification in Education
"Voice has long been an integral part of education and societal growth. With today's speech technology capabilities and the increased awareness of speech in education we may be on the verge of another "great leap forward." This time speech input and output can play key roles in making all content, spoken and written, in all languages available and accessible in ways that are easy to retrieve when we need it." - Patti Price, in The Next "Great Leap Forward" (Speech Technology Magazine: September 12, 2006.
"Authentication of identity is the single most important organizing principle of the modern economy and society." Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, chair of the UK's Information Assurance Advisory Council. Cited in High-Tech ID Policy: What's At Stake? (Nicholas D. Evans / Information Technology Association of America: January 16, 2007)
These days, we number biometric security measures among the necessary facts of modern life. The suite of personal identification tools still includes fingerprinting, but technology has moved on to add a variety of new tools for measuring individually unique aspects of elements of the human frame - hand geometry, iris configuration, facial features, and the peculiarities of speech now all play a part in verifying who we are. The aim is generally to grant or deny access to places (both real and online), to information (on secure databases), to services (such as financial transactions).
Most applications of Information and Communication Technologies find their way into educational practices sooner or later, and the biometric tools are no exception. In this edition of WWWTools for Education, we look at the somewhat tentative but growing use of voice identification tools in educational environments.
In ranked preference order, "voice identification", "voice verification", and "voice authentication" are used interchangeably to describe the use of voice analysis techniques to identify a speaker; "speaker biometrics", "speaker recognition" and "speaker verification" are also used in this context.
The most common confusion is with the term "voice recognition", which refers to the conversion of spoken audio signals into digital data, which is mechanically converted into digital text - this technology has proved valuable in education, but is not our primary topic in this instance.
Background Reading: the Terminology in Context.
Biometric Authentication System - An Overview (Calsoft Labs) - classifies elements of authentication, lists key steps involved in implementing a biometric authentication system, enumerates common uses.
In Buzzwords A-D (ABC Broadcast: April 01, 2002), Ted Dunstone explains Biometrics to Richard Aedy - audio file available.
Speaker Recognition (Wikipedia) - includes an explanation of the distinction: Verification versus Identification.
Speaker Recognition (National Science and Technology Council: August 2006) - a brief well-presented update on the technology.
PerSay Voice Biometrics - considered to be a leading provider of speaker verification products. For example, Israeli Voice Verification Keeps Track of Visa Holders to US (Nicky Blackburn / ISRAEL21c: December 11, 2005) - an interesting implementation of PerSay's products.
Voice (International Biometric Industry Association, 2005) - 'Voice recognition systems authenticate actual voices, as opposed to speech recognition, which asks a user for a specific password.'
Automatic Voice Identification (GlobalSecurity.org, 2007) - a brief update.
Q&A Biometrics (VoiceVault) - brief answers to FAQs re voice verification.
Voice Verification (globalsecurity.org) - a more comprehensive coverage.
Voice Verification (Serco Geografix) - applications in law enforcement.
Authentication Strategies, Risk Mitigation, and Business Metrics (Marcia Gulesian / developer.com)- the role of voice authentication in using voice browsers to access Web-based applications via the telephone.
Survey of the State of the Art in Human Language Technology (Ron Cole, editor in chief, et al / Center for Spoken Language Understanding, 1996) - provides historical perspective; see in particular Chapter 1: Spoken Language Input (eds Ron Cole, Victor Zue).
Voice Biometrics As a Natural and Cost-Effective Method of Authentication (Ziv Barzilay / CellMax Systems, 2007) - a white paper outlining the technology in a fairly basic way.
Technology Section (SpokenProof) - overview of key concepts, as well as case studies, demos, glossary of terms.
A Survey on Speaker Authentication (Mansoura Journal for Computer Science and Information Systems Vol. 3 No. 3 December 2006) - on the problem of distance learner authentication based on sound signature, with particular regard to a Learning Management System.
Biometric Use Cases: Choosing the Right Biometric for the Job (Avery Glasser, Clive Summerfield / Opus Research, November 2005) - lists Key Findings, Table of Contents only.
The World’s Most Comprehensive Evaluation of Commercial Voice Authentication Technologies (University of Canberra / February 12, 2007) - links to results of a scientific evaluation of commercial voice authentication technologies with regard to suitability for applications in Australian Government services.
Nuance, Scansoft, Persay and Kaz Technologies were evaluated in tems of robustness, susceptibility and vulnerabilities in a range of real-world operating conditions.
Available for free download:
The work continues with the University of Canberra 2007 Voice Authentication Technology Evaluations ((UCANIVAEVAL - 2007), aiming to answer ongoing questions about these continually evolving technologies. Industry sponsorship and vendor participation are solicited.
Who Goes There? (Matt Villano / School CIO: November 01, 2007) - how biometrics works, pros and cons, best types of biometrics for the K-12 environment, practical applications in schools, implementation problems, parental concerns, a Who's Who of biometric technology vendors, a useful Buyer's Checklist.
Speech in Education (Phillip Britt / Speech Technology Magazine: June 20, 2005) - a slowly growing uptake; main areas in the education sector in which speech technology was used by 2005: course education, grade reporting and fee payment. Cost advantages, particularly in Higher Education.
Biometrics Solutions (Hewlett-Packard Development Company, 2007) - general statement of the role of voice authentication and other biometric solutions in environments such as schools and campuses, where staff and students need to access networks and log onto applications.
The Use of Biometrics in Education: Voice Verification Branden Jessie, Eric Noe, Josh Yoder / Ball State University) - student work on the role of biometrics in schools and colleges; offers options relating to distance learning, safety, attendance, library management, access to computers.
State of the Art Smart Spaces: Application Models and Software Infrastructure (Association for Computing Machinery) - Smart Spaces are environments equipped with visual and audio sensing systems, pervasive devices, sensors, and networks that can perceive and react to people, sense ongoing human activities and respond to them. Speaker identification is among core technologies used to facilitate interaction. Smart Spaces Scenarios may include Smart Classrooms.
The Smart Classroom: Merging Technologies for Seamless Tele-Education (Yuanchun Shi et al / Pervasive Computing: April–June, 2003) - the Smart Classroom integrates voice-recognition and other technologies to simulate a real classroom experience.
For more detail on this example of Pervasive Computing applied in education, see also Smart Remote Classroom: Creating a Revolutionary Real-Time Interactive Distance Learning System (Yuanchun Shi, Weikai Xie, Guangyou Xu / Tsinghua University)
Use of Mobile Phones for Language Learning and Assessment for Learning, a Pilot Project (Gavin Cooney, Katrina A. Keogh / learnosity.com) - examines using mlearning in second-level education in Ireland for teaching and learning Irish language; aims to facilitate school-based oral assessment and students’ self-assessment, increase students’ competence and motivate students to learn Irish.
Recommendations for further development include biometric voice verification.
Introducing Two New Versions of Its Insights: ReadingFluency Voice Verification Software - Powered by the Soliloquy Reading Assistant (eSchoolNews) - reviews ReadingFluency Version 3, which provides enhanced voice verification, facilitating vocabulary and comprehension help and accessibility features. Demos at the Charlesbridge ReadingFluency site.
Integrating Speech Enabled Services in a Web-Based e-Learning Environment (Steffen Werner et al, Dresden University of Technology / Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Technology: Coding and Computing ITCC'04, Volume 2)- free Abstract of a paper introducing the system, explaining different modules, discussing evaluation results.
Parents Tap Speech Technologies to Get More Involved In Child's Education (Speech Technology Magazine / June 01, 2004) - voice-enabled telephony applications enable parents to check their child's attendance record, course grades and lunch menus.
Students Face Controversial New Lunch-Line Technology (Cara Branigan / eSchool News: July 24, 2001) - a role for BioID's face and voice recognition systems in school cafeterias.
In Higher Education.
Education - University Identity Management (Avatier) - universities and corporate education providers deploy Avatier solutions to help protect networks against unauthorized access and to streamline administrative processes. Lists 22 prominent Education Customers.
Fordham University Selects Nuance and Speech Technology Associates Team to Develop Advanced Voice Automation System for Students, Parents and Faculty (Speech Technology Magazine: July 01, 2005) - a system to provide access to people, information and services.
Speech Driven Services at Higher Education Institutes (Guy Alon / Speech Technology Magazine: August 01, 2005) - for most of these sevices, teaming voice identification with speech recognition would appear to be a logical extension:
- registration for courses
- finding and accessing course information, assessment results, learning resources
- paying for services
- telephone communication
- support services
The Basics of Biometrics (ThinkQuest Library: Created by Team 28062 for the 1999 ThinkQuest Contest) - somewhat dated, but interesting.
"Who Can I Be?" (EdVenture Group, 2006) - a project where students are required to:
* design a Child Development Center that incorporates Biometrics
* orally present their project using PowerPoint
* create a budget using a Spreadsheet
* compare/contrast their use of Biometrics Tools
* collaborate with others in a group.
Biometrics 101 Tutorial (Craig Kaucher / National Defense University) - provides a high-level overview of biometric technologies.
Speaker Recognition (Mats Blomberg / Speech, Music and Hearing, School of Computer Science and Communication, Stockholm University. 2007) - an up-to-date Adobe slide presentation
Sample Higher Education Courses.
Apart from anything else, resource listings for courses are usually rich fossicking grounds.
CPSC 601 Biometric Technologies (Department of Computer Science / University of Calgary, 2006)
MSc Information Security & Biometrics at Kent (Department of Electronics, University of Kent at Canterbury)
Biometric Person Authentication PG – 6776: Unit Outline 2007 (School of Information Sciences and Engineering, Division of Business Law and Information Sciences / University of Canberra) See also the Unit Website
for lecture notes and other useful information.
Course in Speech and Speaker Recognition (Stockholm University, 2007) - purpose of this doctoral course is to give students with basic knowledge of speech technology a deeper understanding of techniques for speech and speaker recognition. Note also the listing of Additional Papers .
Algorithms for Speech Recognition - PFL079 (Charles University in Prague, 2007 / 2008) - 'presents recent methodologies and software toolkits for speech recognition. Students will learn how to develop systems of automatic speech recognition and transcription, computer dialogue systems and speaker identification.'
MAGUS: Mobile Agents Using Sound (Daniel H¨agglund / Monash University, 2003) - 'studies the feasibility of a mobile agents-based system, which uses sound in order to track and, to some extent, predict the movement of a sound source'
Look Who's Talking: Automatic Speaker Identification (Travis Doll / student poster for 2007 Drexel Research Day)
Innovative Research in the Labs Part IV - Carnegie Mellon University (Nancy Jamison / Speech Technology Magazine: September 12, 2006) - reviews the speech groups at Carnegie Mellon University: the Speech Group and the International Center for Advanced Communications Technologies (interACT).
Q&A: Research Developments in Voice Biometrics (Derek Top / Voice Biometrics: October 08, 2007)
Active Projects at the University of South Florida include: Multi-modal Biometric Study; Robust Speech/Speaker Recognition Systems.
The Centre for Speech Technology Research at the University of Edinburgh is concerned with research in all areas of speech technology.
Problems and Issues.
Biometrics: Who's Watching You? (William Abernathy and Lee Tien / Electronic Frontier Foundation: September, 2003)- early misgivings about voice recognition technology.
Security versus Privacy ( Nancy Jamison / Speech Technology Magazine: November 25, 2003) - on the results of the BioMarket Pilot Study, a consumer-based biometric study completed in 2002.
Voice Authentication: Making Access a Figure of Speech (Kym Gilhooly / Computerworld: November 11, 2003) - weighs secure, simplified access to IT systems against a lack of standards and concerns over accuracy.
How Accurate Is Voice Identification? (BBC News: October 04, 2006)
Voice Verification (GlobalSecurity.org, 2007) - 'a person's speech is subject to change depending on health and emotional state.'
Voice Recognition (Biometric Education / ROSISTEM, 2007)- highlights problems with voice verification in telephone banking.
Demystifying Voice Biometrics: The Future of Security is Available Today (Financial Services Technology, 2007) - the skepticism once held for voice recognition should not be transferred to emerging voice verification solutions. Details four Urban Legends of Voice Biometrics:
Myth 1: Voiceprints can be recorded or duplicated.
Myth 2: Voice verification is cost prohibitive.
Myth 3: Voice verification is only for call centers.
Myth 4: Biometrics is too new and therefore a risky investment.
Voice verification is claimed to be inherently more secure than most other verification methods, and well worth the investment.
The Maturation of Biometric Standards (Russ Ryan / secureIDNews: September 28, 2007) - there are more than 50 published biometric standards, and 50 more in development, addressing almost all fundamental aspects of biometrics.
High-Tech ID Policy: What's At Stake? (Nicholas D. Evans / Information Technology Association of America: January 16, 2007) - government agencies, corporations, service providers, academia, industry associations, standards bodies and privacy advocates must collaborate to further develop and refine global best practices, frameworks and standards, in order to ensure safety, security, and ultimately consumer trust.
In the News.
Voice Biometrics Grows to Meet Global Challenges (Dan Miller / Speech Technology Magazine: October 01, 2007)
At Bell, Your Voice Is Your Password (Ryan Joe / Speech Technology Magazine: October 01, 2007) - Bell Canada's Voice Identification Service to reconcile call center efficiency with customer privacy and security.
What Will My Google Phone Do? We've Got a Few Ideas (Michael Calore / Wired Blog Network: November 05, 2007) - developers should be able to create speech-powered apps for dialing and search, thanks to Nuance's involvement.
Interview: Future of Online Payments (Philip Beck / Practical eCommerce: November 05, 2007) - new fraud prevention tools, voice activated systems.
Webinar Highlights the Impact of VoIP on the Hosted IVR Equation (Stefania Viscusi / Visual Voicemail: November 05, 2007) - 'demand for increased efficiency through speech recognition, voice authentication and advanced back office integration.'
Voice Biometrics Conference London November 28-29, 2007. - event overview.
Stay current via:
Speech Technology News and Featured Articles at the Speech Technologies Channel (TMCnet)
BiometriTech (TMCnet) - Latest News and Feature Articles
Speech Technology Magazine
Voice Biometrics (OpusResearch) - Latest News
SecureID News (AVISIAN)
Biometrics in the News (Department of the Army)
Biometric Use Cases: Choosing the Right Biometric for the Job (Avery Glasser; Case Study provided by
Dr. Clive Summerfield / Opus Research: November 2005). Direct sales inquiries to Opus Research
Safari Books Online is an ereference library where you can search through books from O'Reilly, Addison-Wesley, Cisco Press, Microsoft Press and more. Read or browse online:
Biometric Authentication: A Machine Learning Approach (S. Y. Kung; M. W. Mak; S. H. Lin / Prentice Hall, 2004)
Or buy the print version at Informit for $121.50
Print ISBN-10: 0-13-147824-9
Print ISBN-13: 978-0-13-147824-4