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February 1, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Nuance Communications Inc, the telephony-based speech recognition systems developer, says it has become the first to offer a complete speech recognition product that integrates speaker verification technology. Nuance has tied the Nuance Verifier system to its existing telephone speech recognition engine – which has been used for large scale call center operations, such as Charles Schwab & Co’s VoiceBroker telephone mutual funds trading business. The integrated product, Nuance6, is intended for applications which require high-level security, mostly in the financial services, travel and telecommunications markets. The linking of the verifier to the engine shortens call times because it enables recognition and verification to occur simultaneously. The Nuance Verifier employs a proprietary technology called the composite impostor model, which creates and stores sample male and female voices on various types of wireline and wireless phones to better match up with variances in voice patterns and telephone types. The system automatically switches to the impostor model which matches the caller’s status. Nuance claims this protocol is far more accurate than the cohort model used by the 20 or 30 other stand-alone (not integrated with a particular speech engine) verification systems on the market. The cohort model queries a database and creates a new comparison for each speaker verification attempt, which Nuance says can lead to problems if the caller uses a different type of phone than that used in initial registration of the voiceprint. Voiceprints can generally be created through the repetition of a certain phrase two or three times, and can be changed whenever the caller wants. Nuance also points out that the composite impostor approach also requires lower processor power, which can cut overall deployment costs. Nuance Verifier will be offered as part of the deployment- ready Nuance6 software, which is in beta now. Nuance claims verification accuracy rates of 99% in preliminary tests. The product should be available sometime during the second quarter. Steve Ehrlich, vice president of marketing at Nuance, says he has some beta customers now who are developing projects based on Nuance6 but has no contracts for the final product signed as of yet. When asked for more information on the beta customers, Ehrlich would only say that most of them won’t even discuss their work with Nuance for fear of tipping their cards to competitors.

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