Company spotlight: ID R&D
03 October 2018 14:36 GMT

Company spotlights have been created to give firms operating in the secure documents and identity industry an opportunity to discuss trends, product innovations and achievements.

In this interview, Planet Biometrics spoke to Konstantin Simonchik, CTO and co-founder of ID R&D, about the company’s history, aspirations, and its position on future biometrics trends.

Tell us a bit about your company and how it fits into the identity ecosystem?

ID R&D is a biometric vendor so we develop some of the core technologies, specifically around the voice and behavioural modalities. There are two things that make us unique – firstly, there is our approach to security. For us, just matching a voice or behavior isn’t enough; we see anti-spoofing capabilities as a crucial part of authentication. Biometric technology needs to ask two questions – is this the right person? And is this a real person in front of the device?

Secondly, the way this analysis is conducted must meet usability requirements. The best user experience is the one with the least amount of effort.  Let’s face it, nobody finds authentication a “sexy” feature, and no member of the non-biometric community is staying up all night thinking about it. The experience needs to be seamless and effortless.

Older technologies and approaches prioritized security over experience, often due to technology limitations, leading to more complex user experiences and lesser adoption. For us, we have a very strong R&D element and a lot of our research focuses on the user experience. The breakthroughs we are making allow us to enhance security while at the same time reduce friction for users.

What do you see as most important drivers and detractors for the identity industry over the coming year?

We obviously have a strong focus on research and development – it is in our name – and what’s becoming apparent to us is that there’s a lot of growth in the conversational space. Technology is shifting – the days when people do everything the same way is ending. We see an increasing number of transactions, particularly in the enterprise, moving into the conversational space.

Voice is becoming a new kind of interface on its own. A good example is the Alexa device which only has one button but which can perform multiple tasks. This is just one case, we see several capabilities becoming more popular as this evolves.

Banks are interested in letting customers use verbal communication for transactions. There are similar trends for how users interact with appliances, and cars. The huge success of Alexa has shown that a voice interface is convenient for users to simply say something and complete a task that could take hundreds of clicks online.

We see enterprises adapting to this and that’s why there is such a huge need for technologies that can provide frictionless and continuous authentication in the conversational channel. This is where our complex anti-spoofing technology, which can distinguish synthetic voice, becomes such a powerful proposition. 

Wake-up words are a key example of this – of course we’ve heard about Alexa being activated by TV advertisements. This shows that liveness detection will be an important solution. Our more recently released update uses AI to ensure that a drastically lower amount of speech time is needed to complete and secure authentication.   Previous systems would require 5-7 seconds but our new generation requires only 1-2 seconds. 

What are some of the biggest challenges your firm faces?

One of the key challenges is building the right dataset on which you can train and test your solution.   We’ve spent thousands of hours building what we think are the world’s largest datasets for this task. We believe this is time well spent because we can gather, improve, and enhance the data for the market.

On privacy, we fully believe in full transparency for the users – the user needs to be aware of all the capabilities we have discussed, and we believe the tech we bring to the table adds security and convenience - with of course the right to opt-out.

What inspired your focus on biometric fusion and frictionless multi-modal solutions?

Well we always found that biometric technology was so amazing, that it created a huge opportunity, but that the implementation was much slower and clunkier than people anticipated. This restricted adoption because there was too little focus on experience from user’s perspective. The security technology itself was on the cusp of being ready to adapt to a more seamless experience, and we have just pushed it forward to achieve this.

Can you explain how AI will impact on biometrics in future?

The industry is still in the early stages of AI.  We put a lot of time and effort into AI. And earlier this year Microsoft selected us as a top-10 startup for its AI innovations programme. We are very strong on this as we believe it will significantly change what is possible, especially from the customer perspective.

A lot of people hear our name and think we are just an R&D house, but this isn’t the case. What makes us unique is that we work so closely with, and drive, scientific developments. It gives us the ability to quickly bring the innovation from successful testing into the commercial space. We try to be an enabler of the technology magic and it is exciting to bring these visions to fruition.