Top Voice Biometrics Expert, Niko Brummer, Joins Phonexia

What better present could be wished for Phonexia's 15th birthday than having Niko Brummer, the world’s top voice biometrics expert, join the company! Niko Brummer has been immersed in voice biometrics research for more than two decades, finding answers to many puzzling questions around the human voice.We asked him some questions of our own:

What sparked your interest in voice biometrics?

In the late 90's, a banking call centre approached my employer, asking for a text-independent speaker verification solution. Only text-dependent solutions were commercially available then. We had no such technology ready to offer, but I was given a research paper and told to 'build one of those'.  I did so and we eventually installed a successful demo, running live at the call centre. Unfortunately, the Y2K bug diverted the focus of the bank and the final installation was cancelled. Despite this setback,  I liked this problem and its ever evolving solutions so much, that it became the main focus of my career from then on.

What amazes you the most about voice biometrics?

That it works. That it works better than humans in many situations. That it still continues to improve in accuracy, despite decades of research.

What did your first voice biometrics solution help to solve?

Referring to my first answer, text-independent speaker verification is when the to-be-verified human subject can say anything, as opposed to text-dependent modality, where a prescribed phrase must be said. In text-independent mode, the speech samples can be collected during a natural conversation between the to-be-verified caller and the call centre agent. The call centre management believed this would provide an easier and more acceptable experience for their clients.

What do you think is the biggest voice biometrics challenge luring ahead?

To equal and perhaps exceed human performance in adverse conditions, where speech samples may be short, noisy and contaminated with speech from one or more  other speakers.

How do you think voice biometrics will evolve in the upcoming future?

It will become more accurate, especially in challenging conditions.

And it will become more widely available, until most machines that are equipped with speech technology will include speaker recognition by default.

What made you decide to join Phonexia?

Good technology and a friendly culture.

What do you envision to help Phonexia achieve in the upcoming years?

I hope I can make a big contribution to help Phonexia to meet the above-mentioned challenges and to make progress towards the future.

What would your ideal version of the world powered by voice biometrics look like?

I'd like to see that speech-enabled man-machine interfaces become much more common---and all of them should be able to recognize speakers.