Affordable voice-ID software 'here within a year'

Affordable biometric authentication software using voice-print identification could be available in 2006 from's business-services arm

The business services arm of the directory company is in the process of developing its own two-factor authentication system based around voice-print comparisons.

The company announced on Thursday that it is developing a product that will be able to authenticate customers from the sound of their voices.

The company is looking to have a voice verification package on the market within a year, according to Business Services managing director Keith Marsden. "We are hoping to be able to do a full blown biometric check within nine months to a year," he said.

A voice-print is a set of data representing patterns in a digital recording of a voice, which is unique to an individual, and can be used for identification in much the same way as a fingerprint. Voice comparison software identifies users by comparing their voice with a sample held on file.

Such biometric comparison software already exists, and is used by private banks such as Coutts, according to IT director Paul Broome. "I've seen it, I've used it, it does work — it's just very expensive in terms of CPU time to implement."

An acknowledged difficulty with telephone voice comparison is poor reception. "By using a decent microphone you can get 80 to 90 percent success rates for comparisons, and you can make the risk smaller by asking more questions," Broome said.