Patent published on September 14, 2023

Patented Tech Could Add Extra Layer to Voice ID Checks

The University of Houston System recently filed patent number US20230290354A1, introducing a new technological solution destined to add an extra layer of security to our routine identity checks. This patent tackles a crucial, nagging issue tied to most smart voice assistants or devices that primarily rely on vocal or audio-based authentication processes. Simply put, these devices confirm your identity by listening to your voice. Yet, what if you have a cold, or someone has figured out how to mimic your tones exactly? Suddenly, the virtual 'bouncer' at the door doesn't recognize you, resulting in a denial of access or, worse, unauthorized access to your private data.

To address this issue, the University of Houston System has innovatively proposed a two-way or multifactor authentication method that not only uses the familiar vocal recognition but also introduces a signal from a wearable gadget. This gadget, akin to a watch or a bracelet, sends a bone conduction signal along with the sound of your voice. In essence, combining a factor you 'are' (your unique bone conduction signal) with a factor you 'know' (your voice), providing a robust and reliable identification check.

Visualized in a world beyond patent drawings, picture ourselves using our smart devices in everyday situations. Imagine waking up in the morning and asking your smart speaker to plan your day. In addition to recognizing your voice, the smart speaker also requires a green light from your wearable wristwatch. Should both signals match the stored profile, your day starts with yet another affirmation, "Authenticated user, your today's schedule is…” And in case your voice is unrecognizable due to a cold, your wearable has your back, ensuring no interruption to your digital assistant's service.

Another scenario could be you receiving an automated phone call from your bank regarding suspicious transactions. As you authorize the call using your voice, simultaneously, your wearable gadget next to your smartphone recognizes the bone conduction signal, verifying your identity before any confidential information is discussed. This way, your much-needed safety net around your financial data stays intact, even when scammers clone your voice.

However, as intriguing as it sounds, it is important to remember that, as of now, this innovative proposal is just a patent. There's no certainty that we will see this technology in the market soon, or at all. Nevertheless, it's enticing to consider how this could potentially add a new dimension in securing our increasingly digitized routine activities, making our cyber lives a little bit safer. P.S. Despite the potential of this concept, remember, this still remains a patent. Will we see it materializing onto the market shelves anytime soon? Only time will tell.

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