Mind-Reading Voice Analyzer On Tap - InformationWeek

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1/20/2006
01:25 PM
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Mind-Reading Voice Analyzer On Tap

Better watch your mouth. Technology is being tested that's designed to identify criminal intent by analyzing a person's voice. Insurance companies already are using it, and now law enforcement is checking out possible uses.

Nemesysco Ltd.'s layered-voice-analysis technology doesn't provide just the pass/fail results of a lie-detector test but can determine a person's willingness to speak on specific topics, their level of concentration, and even whether their thoughts come from memory or imagination. Law-enforcement agencies could use it for investigations, security clearances, controlling access to secured areas, intelligence-source questioning, and hostage negotiations, Nemesysco says.

The company completed a pilot test in November at Moscow's Domodedovo airport, where 500 passengers' voices were analyzed by a walk-through security system based on the technology. Nemesysco's GK1 voice analyzer, which costs up to $30,000, was used to help identify potential hijackers, drug smugglers, and other criminals.

Nemesysco developed its layered-voice-analysis technology with the goal of producing something more advanced than lie-detection technology, says Rich Parton, CEO of V LLC, Nemesysco's North American distributor. Unlike lie-detector tests, it doesn't determine stress levels to signal if a person is lying. "Nemesysco provides a psychological assessment of what's behind the response," he says.

Interrogators use a standard PC running Windows XP to collect data through a microphone; no equipment is attached to the person being questioned. Using the voice-analysis software, responses to questions are mapped numerically and visually, similar to the way an electrocardiogram measures and maps the electrical activity of a heartbeat. On a voice-analysis map, the bottom line indicates a person's willingness to speak on a subject, followed upward by lines that indicate level of concentration, thought patterns, emotions, the difference between what someone is thinking and what they say, and whether thoughts originate from memory or imagination, according to Nemesysco.

The company offers several products based on the technology, including a risk-assessment application and software for creating a person's "emotional signature" based upon analysis of a recorded conversation. Twenty insurance companies in the United Kingdom are using the risk-assessment component to defend against fraudulent claims, Parton says. Just another reason that crime, or even thinking about committing one, doesn't pay.

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