Russian ATM uses voice analysis to detect when you're lying

By on June 13, 2011, 10:00 AM

Sberbank, Russia's biggest retail bank and whose majority owner is the Russian government, is testing an automated teller machine (ATM) with a built-in lie detector intended to prevent consumer credit fraud. Consumers with no previous relationship with the bank can talk to the machine to apply for a credit card, with no human intervention required on the bank's end.

The ATM can scan a passport, record fingerprints, as well as take a 3D photo for facial recognition. It even uses voice analysis software to help assess whether the person is truthfully answering questions that affect their financial status.

The voice analysis system was developed by the Speech Technology Center. Dmitri V. Dyrmovsky, director of the center's Moscow offices, told The New York Times that the new system was designed in part by sampling Russian law enforcement databases of recorded voices of people found to be lying during police interrogations. Victor M. Orlovsky, a senior vice president for technology at the bank, said the software detects nervousness or emotional distress, and combines this with other data, such as credit history, to reach a conclusion.

Sberbank intends to install the new machines in malls and bank branches around the country, but has not yet scheduled a rollout. Technology consultants say the machines, if they go into commercial use, would be the world's first ATMs with voice analysis.

Sberbank executives insist the new ATMS will adhere to Russian privacy laws. The bank plans to store customers' voice prints on chips contained in their credit cards, in order to comply with the part of privacy law that prohibits a company from keeping a database of customers' voice signatures. Orlovsky also said the bank plans to make consumers aware of the types of information, including biometrics, that the ATM would be collecting.

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