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January 06, 2011

IVR: Nuance Acquires PerSay to Bring Voice Biometrics to Market

By Brendan B. Read, Senior Contributing Editor

Speech recognition giant Nuance has confirmed to TMCnet that it has acquired PerSay, a voice biometrics company based in Israel. Through this deal, Nuance (News - Alert) said in a statement provided to TMCnet that it will be able to provide “best of breed voice biometrics solutions” to a variety of markets.

Nuance also told TMCnet that it plans to announce its vision for and strategy around the joint solutions in the coming months.

PerSay (News - Alert) offers three language- and accent-independent speaker verification solutions:

VocalPassword: A biometric speaker verification system that verifies a speaker during an interaction with a voice application;

FreeSpeech: A unique text-independent biometric speaker verification system that transparently verifies the identity of a speaker during the course of a natural conversation

S.P.I.D: An advanced voice mining and speaker identification system for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

These are built on a single platform created by using C# programming language and .Net technology, and it uses IIS as its front-end Web server. It exposes a set of Web services that enable any application written in any programming language, and running on any platform, to easily invoke speaker verification operations.

The Nuance solution is well-timed given heightening concern over ID theft, privacy and security. Authenticating those seeking access to information is the first line of defense. As more of the workforce logs in and performs their tasks from offsite locations -- be it cafés, cars or their homes -- and as the information they handle becomes more sensitive and valuable, remote identity verification is becoming essential. The August issue of Customer Interaction Solutions will have a feature devoted to contact center security.“The acquisition of PerSay builds upon years of Nuance research and deployment expertise in voice biometrics to deliver high levels of accuracy and security to applications,” said Chuck Buffum, vice president of Authentication for Nuance Communications (News - Alert). “PerSay’s voice biometrics products are currently in use across a range of applications, including remote transactions via contact centers and the Internet, password reset, offender monitoring, voice mining, and time and attendance.”

“Together, the companies can accelerate the growth and adoption of the emerging voice biometrics market segment,” he added. “As well as improve customer experience through convenient access to key automated speech solutions, which include effective risk management, compliance with critical industry regulations, and the ability to successfully combat fraud and identity theft.”

The Nuance statement follows on the heels of reports published last year of the deal.

Dan Miller (News - Alert), writing for Opus Research, said, “The acquisition of PerSay augments [Nuance’s] its product line (by adding the text independent authentication and authentication on iPhones to the product portfolio among other items, including audio mining). It also expands the existing customer base to include some of the largest known customer-facing authentication app for telecommunications firms, government agencies, and financial services companies around the world.

“Looking ahead, as Nuance follows its three year plan to incorporate the intellectual property and development horsepower acquired from IBM (News - Alert), the prospects are bright for voice biometric-based solutions that fulfill on the promise of conversational authentication in a variety of enterprise, customer care and mobile settings.

“For PerSay, affiliation with Nuance removes one of the primary objections that prospective deployers have voiced for a years; that is, concern over size and longevity. Though impressed with PerSay’s underlying technology and the quality of its sales execs, engineering personnel and technology partners, business demographics (size, financial strength, and indemnification) remain part of the vendor selection criteria for technologies that are both “leading edge” and destined to stay in service for decades to come. While PerSay’s base of reference customers is impressive, Nuance, with a market cap approaching $5.5 billion these days, provides a greater sense of security."

Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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