Face/voice recognition—evil twins for cleft lip folks and perhaps us all.


Could Wells Fargo’s involvement with cutting edge face and voice recognition be evil twins? There are many evil twins out there just like the so-called Twisted Twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska who brought us the horror films AMERICAN MARY and  SEE NO EVIL 2.

Well,  defenders of our right to privacy feel so, but  surprisingly, so do many cleft kids and adults.

The SOSKAS twin sisters hold hands in a hallway with a bloody axe imbedded in a wall.

The Twisted Soska sisters

The anti-surveillance state. 

The privacy folks’ opposition to face and voice recognition has been made clear, and my recent blog  lays out some of the issues and different tactics for preventing or interfering with facial recognition which might feed into the hands of Big Brother, NSA, or others. 

But why would folks with cleft lips and palates be opposed to face and voice recognition technology? 

The anti-humiliation state.

Simply put, cleft kids and cleft adults know that their voices (and faces as we’ve seen in earlier blogs) are their achilles heel, their weak point.

In fact, many such folks may have decent facial outcomes from reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries but still suffer from nasal cleft-palate speech. And if their speech has improved a thousand-fold due to surgeries and hard work in speech therapy, many clefts still suffer from insecurity and anxiety about the sound of their voices. Thus, they never feel too great about hearing their voices on tape, on cell/phone message devices, or even amplified by public-address sound systems. They feel humiliated often.

So, when you read puff pieces such as the following in papers or magazines, realize that many people don’t exactly jump up and down at the news. 

Wells Fargo’s selfie style security system.

“Wells Fargo is tapping into facial and voice recognition technology to create a more efficient mobile banking security system which a customer can use in a similar way to taking a selfie.

Human authentication, known as biometrics, analyses a person’s fingerprints, facial symmetry and voice to ensure that identity can be confirmed and the San Francisco based bank may use this type of technology in their new security systems, according to Fortune.

Biometric technology is on trend at the moment with many different industries implementing it into their systems to prevent data breaches, because of the lack of documentation needed in order to authenticate someone’s identity. 

Wells Fargo has reportedly been interested in this form of technology for several years and see it as a way of improving the security checks on their mobile banking application (app), CEO Mobile. Current users of the app found making a transaction tedious as the process was long and required entry of a user ID, password, unique security token and PIN number. 

To combat this problem, the bank has been working with SpeechPro, a global leader in biometrics, to develop the app and 100 customers have been asked to try out the authentication technology that involves scanning their face and voice with their iPhone’s built in camera and microphone. 

A report by Fortune explained how Secil Watson, executive vice president and head of the Wells Fargo’s wholesale Internet services used the security system. “She had to hold the phone relatively still, similar to how one mugs it up for a selfie, and position her face within a mini-grid displayed on the screen. Once her face was placed correctly within the confines of the grid, a message appeared that prompted her to say a phrase followed by a series of randomized numbers,” Watson said. 

The phone would then verify her face and voice by associating it to the unique profile she had previously set up and then she could proceed to do her banking. Wells Fargo estimates it takes about 23 seconds in total to pass the security test.

However, Wells Fargo vice president and strategist Andy Foote revealed that customers prefer storing their banking information on their personal servers, rather than on their phones at the moment. He also highlighted that Wells Fargo ensure that data is encrypted and padded with fake data to further safeguard customer information.  

The bank intends to allow the general public to use the biometric authentication by next year after they solve some minor problems and further develop the app to suit newer technologies, such as adding a video function to record the customer during the voice recognition part of the security check.

Alongside this, Wells Fargo is looking to install the ability to scan the veins of a human eye, which are unique to each individual and the perfect characteristic to use to verify identity. “Even two twins don’t have the same eye vein structure,” said Foote.”

Twins indeed!



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