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Nuance's Nina to enable iOS apps to authenticate users by the sound of their voice

post #1 of 38
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The somewhat tedious process of logging into applications on Apple's iOS devices using the on-screen keyboard may soon become a thing of the past thanks to a new software platform from Nuance that promises to allow app makers to authenticate a user by the sound of their voice and much, much more.

The voice technology firm behind the Dragon Naturally Speaking line of voice applications for personal computers and the Dragon Dictation software built into iPhones on Monday announced Nina -- a virtual assistant for mobile customer service apps the will allow companies to quickly add speech-based virtual assistant capabilities to their existing iOS and Android apps.

Expanding beyond the basic capabilities of the Siri personal assistant found in the current version of iOS, Nina bills itself as the first virtual assistant to incorporate both speech recognition and voice biometrics into a single integrated solution. And unlike Siri, which is presently compatible only with Apple's own iOS apps, it will be made available to all developers through an open software developer kit (SDK).

It works by combining Nuance speech recognition, Text-to-Speech (TTS), voice biometrics, and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technology into a single cloud-based service that not only understands what is said, but also can identify who is saying it.

The company is targeting the platform at customer service companies like banks and insurance agencies, whose applications can be updated to allow customers to log into their accounts, transfer funds, pay bills, reschedule flights and so forth using only spoken commands. It even promises to allow these companies to tailor their own "virtual assistant persona," including the visual appearance and implementation of custom TTS voices.


A demo video showing Nina in action


The USAA, a leading financial services provider that serves members of the U.S. military, veterans and their families, will be the first to adopt the virtual assistant for use within its popular mobile app beginning with a pilot planned for release sometime this month. It will be followed by a formal launch to all USAA members early next year.


Some additional examples showing Nina in action


Nuance says that Nina is currently available to developers in the US, UK, and Australia (English), with support for additional languages scheduled for later this year. iOS and Android app developers seeking additional details on the technology can turn to Nuance's Nina page for more information.
post #2 of 38

My voice is my password!

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post #3 of 38

In place of more cloud options I'd rather see more on-device options for speech to text/code. Most people don't have a network connection all the time.

post #4 of 38

"Noah Voson"

 

There. I just got access to all your data lol.gif

 

Edit: since nobody seemed to get this reference (shame on you!), it's from Bourne Ultimatum.


Edited by enjourni - 8/6/12 at 10:32am
post #5 of 38

Does it work on iPhone 4?

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post #6 of 38
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Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The somewhat tedious process of logging into applications on Apple's iOS devices using the on-screen keyboard may soon become a thing of the past thanks to a new software platform from Nuance that promises to allow app makers to authenticate a user by the sound of their voice and much, much more….
Nuance says that Nina is currently available to developers in the US, UK, and Australia (English), with support for additional languages scheduled for later this year. iOS and Android app developers seeking additional details on the technology can turn to Nuance's Nina page for more information.

Makes me wonder what the price tag for Dragon (Nuance et al) would be. They have been in this game for quite a while -- think its is probably still held (majority anyway) by the original Chinese group + VC so it might be pricey. Gotta wonder if this wouldn't be a better technology to be selling licenses for the use of than vice-versa (although their patents may be getting a little long in the tooth - I remember seeing a demo in a private suite at MacWorld 1989 or 90.)

post #7 of 38
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Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Does it work on iPhone 4?

Can't imagine it wouldn't. It's being targeted for customer service apps like banking, investment and insurance on both iOS and Android platforms.

http://www.nuance.com/ucmct/groups/enterprise/@web-enus/documents/collateral/nc_025294.pdf

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post #8 of 38

"Siri, do you think Nina has a big butt?"

post #9 of 38
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Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Can't imagine it wouldn't. It's being targeted for customer service apps like banking, investment and insurance on both iOS and Android platforms.

http://www.nuance.com/ucmct/groups/enterprise/@web-enus/documents/collateral/nc_025294.pdf

Just that Apple made a big deal of Siri only working on 4S. At least if it does work on iPhone 4 it won't be replicating core functionality of the device but I can't see how it doesn't violate that stipulation on the 4S or the upcoming model whatever it is called.

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post #10 of 38
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Originally Posted by Magicite View Post

My voice is my password!

 

This is the first thing I thought of too, LOL

post #11 of 38
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Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

Makes me wonder what the price tag for Dragon (Nuance et al) would be. They have been in this game for quite a while -- think its is probably still held (majority anyway) by the original Chinese group + VC so it might be pricey. Gotta wonder if this wouldn't be a better technology to be selling licenses for the use of than vice-versa (although their patents may be getting a little long in the tooth - I remember seeing a demo in a private suite at MacWorld 1989 or 90.)

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post #12 of 38
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Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Just that Apple made a big deal of Siri only working on 4S. At least if it does work on iPhone 4 it won't be replicating core functionality of the device but I can't see how it doesn't violate that stipulation on the 4S or the upcoming model whatever it is called.

Gotcha. Maybe it would violate Apple's TOS. Someone a lot more knowledgeable than me would have to take a crack at that one.

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post #13 of 38

This should be a boon for developers.

 

I've always thought that Apple is missing the boat by:

 

  1. not opening Siri to developers
  2. not allowing apps or notifications to automatically launch other apps
  3. not allowing apps to share documents among apps

 

With some rigorous defined protocols this should be possible without sacrificing security, performance ((battery usage), etc. It certainly could improve usability.

 

I suspect the way Apple will go about cutting the cord with cloud servers is:

 

  1. use the cloud to gather enough voice data from the generalized population
  2. implement cloud algorithms in a custom chip on the iDevice
  3. use the cloud to gather data on a specific customer (you)
  4. train Siri to understand your voice
  5. update the data used by the iDevice chip to understand your voice
  6. handle a large percentage of tasks on the iDevice, with no cloud involvement
  7. have the cloud accessible to handle exceptions that Siri can't handle locally
  8. update the data for the iDevice chip as needed (incorporate above exceptions)
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post #14 of 38

I just don't know about all this Nina stuff on the iPhone...

Is Nina a new Siri competitor?  If so, it won't make it through the App certification process.  It would confuse users since Siri can already do most of this stuff already.

 

Apple will most likely use bio security methods such as finger print or retina scan instead of voice.

Apple just purchased AuthenTec.  

 

Time will tell.

post #15 of 38
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Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

This should be a boon for developers.

 

I've always thought that Apple is missing the boat by:

 

  1. not opening Siri to developers
  2. not allowing apps or notifications to automatically launch other apps
  3. not allowing apps to share documents among apps

 

With some rigorous defined protocols this should be possible without sacrificing security, performance ((battery usage), etc. It certainly could improve usability.

 

I suspect the way Apple will go about cutting the cord with cloud servers is:

 

  1. use the cloud to gather enough voice data from the generalized population
  2. implement cloud algorithms in a custom chip on the iDevice
  3. use the cloud to gather data on a specific customer (you)
  4. train Siri to understand your voice
  5. update the data used by the iDevice chip to understand your voice
  6. handle a large percentage of tasks on the iDevice, with no cloud involvement
  7. have the cloud accessible to handle exceptions that Siri can't handle locally

Or buy Eliza since Nuance is far too expensive.

 

I wonder where the Nuance datacenter is and how many solar panels they employ?

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post #16 of 38
If your voice is your password, what happens when you get a cold, or worse, laryngitis?
post #17 of 38
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Originally Posted by EWTHeckman View Post

If your voice is your password, what happens when you get a cold, or worse, laryngitis?

Or in the morning when you wake up. Or if someone records your voice. Or there is background noise. Biometrics make for cool sci-fi but not for good consumer tech.

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post #18 of 38
My prediction: Rich Little would own the world once this goes into full deployment.

Hmm I wonder how many readers have to google Rich's name just to make sence of my post...
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post #19 of 38
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Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The USAA, a leading financial services provider that serves members of the U.S. military, veterans and their families, will be the first to adopt the virtual assistant for use within its popular mobile app beginning with a pilot planned for release sometime this month. It will be followed by a formal launch to all USAA members early next year.

While I'm all for innovation, I'm not sure I'd be happy with being the first to jump into using voice recognition for authentication. Until there's a great deal of experience, it just sounds too risky for me to want to put my money at risk.
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post #20 of 38
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Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


While I'm all for innovation, I'm not sure I'd be happy with being the first to jump into using voice recognition for authentication. Until there's a great deal of experience, it just sounds too risky for me to want to put my money at risk.

It doesn't seem that risky really. I believe there would be several layers of authentication. One, it is your phone and the server knows the phone and your voice and if it doesn't authenticate after let's say three tries it goes into verification mode requiring key entry pin number. If someone stole your phone it would be no more of a risk than if they stole your wallet. Furthermore your money is insured against theft from the bank just the way your credit card is. It is appalling how lax grocery stores are about credit cards though. If you stole someone's card, they never ask for a photo ID at the grocery store and you could run up a very high tab in a short period of time.

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post #21 of 38

iPhone, recognize Picard, Jean-Luc. Alpha 2 clearance.

post #22 of 38
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Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post

I just don't know about all this Nina stuff on the iPhone...

Is Nina a new Siri competitor?  If so, it won't make it through the App certification process.  It would confuse users since Siri can already do most of this stuff already.

 

Apple will most likely use bio security methods such as finger print or retina scan instead of voice.

Apple just purchased AuthenTec.  

 

Time will tell.

 

I am a Developer, so I registered for info updates -- I assume they'll notify us when the SDK is available.

 

I suspect that Siri uses the same "Speech To Text" processing as Nina -- just hosted on different servers.

 

The unique feature of each service is determining:

  • what the text means
  • what context should be taken into consideration
  • what is the user's intent

 

This is the hard part.

 

I think that Apple will find it difficult to disallow Nina on iDevices -- especially if it does a good job...   That would give Android a leg up.

 

 

Finally, it is interesting that at a 50% premium, Nuance could be purchased for less than Google paid for MMI.

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post #23 of 38
I hope it's better than Android's face recognition. My friend sits there for several seconds waiting for it to work and half the time it doesnt so she has to enter a password manually. Really!? Why not just enter the password first. There is also a disclaimer that similar-looking people may Be able to unlock the phone.

Vox tech for password protection just seems like a poor solution. I presume it requires you to say a password of some sort. In which case, people are going to be walking around saying their passwords. How easy would it be to record someone accessing their phone, at say Starbucks or the grocery store? Especially if they have to take three tries at it?

No thanks ... Maybe as an option when you are driving in the car by yourself and the iPhone has auto-locked, keeping you hands free. But in general ... I don't want people working for the government using voice passwords to access their technology ...
post #24 of 38
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Originally Posted by quinney View Post

"Siri, do you think Nina has a big butt?"

 

Ha!

 

The real trick will be when you have 2 iPhones -- 1 with Nina, the other with Siri "talking" to each other... That will be a real cat fight... kinda' like the womens' team on Hells Kitchen...  Siri, Turn in your chef's jacket -- you're off the team!


Edited by Dick Applebaum - 8/6/12 at 9:46am
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post #25 of 38
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Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post

I hope it's better than Android's face recognition. My friend sits there for several seconds waiting for it to work and half the time it doesnt so she has to enter a password manually. Really!? Why not just enter the password first. There is also a disclaimer that similar-looking people may Be able to unlock the phone.

Vox tech for password protection just seems like a poor solution. I presume it requires you to say a password of some sort. In which case, people are going to be walking around saying their passwords. How easy would it be to record someone accessing their phone, at say Starbucks or the grocery store? Especially if they have to take three tries at it?

No thanks ... Maybe as an option when you are driving in the car by yourself and the iPhone has auto-locked, keeping you hands free. But in general ... I don't want people working for the government using voice passwords to access their technology ...

I don't think people would be saying passwords. It is the voice that is being authenticated, so any randomly generated phrase could be used.

post #26 of 38

Why are all the voices female? Have men gone extinct and I'm the only one left? I'd prefer a male voice because it is lower and has more harmonics, which is easier for older people to hear. Or have all the older people gone extinct also?

post #27 of 38
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Originally Posted by Panu View Post

Why are all the voices female? Have men gone extinct and I'm the only one left? I'd prefer a male voice because it is lower and has more harmonics, which is easier for older people to hear. Or have all the older people gone extinct also?

 

In the UK the voice is male!

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post #28 of 38
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Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Or in the morning when you wake up. Or if someone records your voice. Or there is background noise. Biometrics make for cool sci-fi but not for good consumer tech.

 

There are certainly enormous issues with how safe or reliable this would be.  I'm also worried about sending very private information to Nuance, or giving them control over who has password-level access to my bank accounts and other private data.   At the least, I want my bank to do its own authentication before it gives out my money!  Maybe they are thinking of using this as a second authentication factor, to be used in addition to passwords?

post #29 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post

I hope it's better than Android's face recognition. My friend sits there for several seconds waiting for it to work and half the time it doesnt so she has to enter a password manually. Really!? Why not just enter the password first. There is also a disclaimer that similar-looking people may Be able to unlock the phone.

My son decided it was a cute trick but not dependable (in his case secret enough) as a method of unlocking his phone. At least he could require a "blink" to be sure it wasn't a picture of him tho, so I guess they changed it somewhere along the line.

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post #30 of 38
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Originally Posted by nulleggman View Post

iPhone, recognize Picard, Jean-Luc. Alpha 2 clearance.

 

Destruct sequence Alpha-One. 15 minutes, silent countdown. Enable.

post #31 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


While I'm all for innovation, I'm not sure I'd be happy with being the first to jump into using voice recognition for authentication. Until there's a great deal of experience, it just sounds too risky for me to want to put my money at risk.

 

Agreed.

 

But it's also not just your money in that particular account being at risk; one could imagine setting up an account with a minimal balance, just to give things a try.

 

There's a bigger problem it seems people aren't thinking about.  When you start using ANY service like this that accumulates and stores your biometrics, you're essentially allowing various corporations to fingerprint you.  How many people would be cool working with a bank (or a grocery store or Best Buy or ... ) that required you be fingerprinted before you could use their services, and then fingerprinted again before every transaction?

 

This service is NOT local to your device, it's sending your personal biometric information to servers out in the real world, where corporations are keen to add to their customer profiles for many reasons (marketing is huge, of course), but also remember that no matter how good their security, these servers are subject to hacking attacks that we read about every couple months.  There are many vectors for these attacks, including various offline storage, data transfer, social engineering, etc.

 

If your bank account or credit gets hacked, you're probably covered by one of their protection plans.  But if your voice biometrics are stolen, what are you going to do?!

 

All this to save a couple seconds of entering passwords?  How effing lazy have we become?


Edited by Blah64 - 8/6/12 at 11:03am
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post #32 of 38

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post #33 of 38
Quote:

If your bank account or credit gets hacked, you're probably covered by one of their protection plans.  But if your voice biometrics are stolen, what are you going to do?!

 

Vocal cord surgery.  No problem at all.

 

Oh, wait.  Yeah, maybe it's easier to just change your Ensign Authorization Code from "weector weector two" to "weector weector tree".

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post #34 of 38
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Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

 

In the UK the voice is male!

Wonderful! Freedom from the electronic Tupperware party! Now I'll have to move to the UK so I can hang out with the guys. Or the blokes. Whichever, I'm not fussy. 

post #35 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

 

Ha!

 

The real trick will be when you have 2 iPhones -- 1 with Nina, the other with Siri "talking" to each other... That will be a real cat fight... kinda' like the womens' team on Hells Kitchen...  Siri, Turn in your chef's jacket -- you're off the team!

Or: Siri: " Nina looks fat on that Android phone, but oh-so svelte on this iPhone. However, I can't tell the difference with the Samsung phone."

post #36 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by EWTHeckman View Post

If your voice is your password, what happens when you get a cold, or worse, laryngitis?

 

I'm gonna teach it to recognize my beer belch... that way, never a problem.

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post #37 of 38
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Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

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I re-watched Star Trek (2009) this past weekend. That movie is well made in every regard. No complaints from me.


PS: Are you running the Rich Text Editor on this forum?

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post #38 of 38
The absolute last thing I would do is allow access to my financial accounts solely with voice commands. This is the absolute worst use of this technology. Voices can be recorded easily. And even imitated.
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