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Microsoft's Acoustic Caller ID Patent

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the who-do-you-sound-like-today dept.

Patents 185

theodp writes "A new patent granted to Microsoft Tuesday for automatic identification of telephone callers based on voice characteristics covers constructing acoustic models for telephone callers by identifying words or subject matter commonly used by callers and capturing the acoustic properties of any utterance. Not only that, it's done 'without alerting the caller during the call that the caller is being identified,' boasts Microsoft in the patent claims."

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Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19499727)

The only difference here (aside from what agencies have been doing since the 1960's) is that this analysis seems to be done in real time, rather than offline? I mean, haven't monitoring people been able to tell who is speaking based on sound synthesis since forever?

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (2, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499757)

I dunno how useful this is. I usually just recognize the voice myself. Our wetware has some wonderful capabilities.

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (3, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499839)

It might not be useful in a home environment, but how about in an office where after the initial greeting the customer details are popped on-screen without you typing anything?

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (2, Insightful)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500119)

Isn't that why they ask for my account number?

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500245)

You haven't had to ask a lot of people for account numbers have you?

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (2, Insightful)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500403)

I have. As I remember, it's one of the least painful parts of working tech support.

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500587)

Me: "Thank you for calling, may I have your store's telephone number, area code first please?"
Dumbass: "Yes, this is **** from the "
Me: "Your phone number?"
Dumbass: "Oh, it's ###-###-####" ... Yes, sometimes it is really fucking hard for the jackasses to even listen to what you ask? Like I wasn't clear about what I needed, and like you didn't know what it was either.

Q-TIPS PEOPLE! FUCKING USE THEM!

Dear retard. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500249)

Isn't that why they ask for my account number? "the customer details are popped on-screen without you typing anything" "the customer details are popped on-screen without you typing anything" "the customer details are popped on-screen without you typing anything" does retard get it? does retard want a cookie?

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (3, Funny)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501093)

Isn't that why they ask for my account number?

Good Lord, no. They ask for your account number just to irritate you because both you and the person you're talking to know damn well you had to key in your account number just 2 minutes ago.

OT: I always wondered (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501483)

I know this is off topic, but I have always wondered why they do this? I once asked the operator and they said I have no number...

Is this a mystery like the missing sock in the laundry?

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (1)

dave1791 (315728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501715)

Chances are, the call center rep is already looking at your account when he/she asks for it. I goofed around with computer telephony a bit back in the early 90's and I remember that already then the tech was pretty standard to pull the number and do the database lookup automatically. Saving the call center a few seconds per call adds up. The reasons they ask for it are a) people found it disconserting to have the call center rep greet them by name before they said anything and b) you might not be calling form your home number. That was the early 90's, before CRM systems were the rage.

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (1)

FraterNLST (922749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500453)

Or, just as a purely hypothetical situation, for some group of people, lets call them an Agency, listening to all phone calls being recieved by a particular person. They'd find it very useful to have an automated system tell them when a particular person calls. Beats having a bunch of people taking shifts listening and waiting.

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19499939)

slashdotters are a buncha cockheads

Actually, NSA will have prior Art (2, Funny)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500479)

NSA has had real-time voice ID since before '96 and possibly longer. How MS got this patent is beyond me. Our system is soooooooo broken

Re:Only Innovation: Real Time versus Offline? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500657)

When your MOM calls, I get wood. I should patent that (or maybe just her).

Can they detect how pissed off i am? (2, Interesting)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499731)

Anecdotally I feel like some companies answer the phone quicker if you talk to their automated system in an irate and condescending manner. Could just be me though :)

Re:Can they detect how pissed off i am? (3, Interesting)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499823)

It could be true, too. [ergoweb.com]

they think they can ... (2, Funny)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500031)

... but it works as well as their speech recognition [slashdot.org] . Between this, face recognition and kill drones OBL will be found and exterminated early and often. I hope it's not me next.

The programmers put in an Easter egg, just for you. Whenever Twitter says "shit" into his cell phone, the official Microsoft transcript has "M$".

LOLZ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500139)

That's why I come to Slashdot, for the comedians.

Yes they can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500109)

They do! Some systems are in fact setup so they just tell you to hit 1, 2, 3, etc., but if you say "operator" or something it'll take you to a person, and some if you start swearing at it it'll take you to a person too. I wouldn't have believed it but I saw one of those "here's how to get real tech support" articles, and for several companies it says to get pissed at the recording.

Re:Can they detect how pissed off i am? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500117)

The Suicide's Soliloquy
by Abraham Lincoln (1838)

Here, where the lonely hooting owl
    Sends forth his midnight moans,
Fierce wolves shall o'er my carcase growl,
    Or buzzards pick my bones.

No fellow-man shall learn my fate,
    Or where my ashes lie;
Unless by beasts drawn round their bait,
    Or by the ravens' cry.

Yes! I've resolved the deed to do,
    And this the place to do it:
This heart I'll rush a dagger through,
    Though I in hell should rue it!

Hell! What is hell to one like me
    Who pleasures never know;
By friends consigned to misery,
    By hope deserted too?

To ease me of this power to think,
    That through my bosom raves,
I'll headlong leap from hell's high brink,
    And wallow in its waves.

Though devils yell, and burning chains
    May waken long regret;
Their frightful screams, and piercing pains,
    Will help me to forget.

Yes! I'm prepared, through endless night,
    To take that fiery berth!
Think not with tales of hell to fright
    Me, who am damn'd on earth!

Sweet steel! come forth from our your sheath,
    And glist'ning, speak your powers;
Rip up the organs of my breath,
    And draw my blood in showers!

I strike! It quivers in that heart
    Which drives me to this end;
I draw and kiss the bloody dart,
    My last--my only friend!

Why? (4, Insightful)

Aoreias (721149) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499747)

What's the purpose of caller ID after I've picked up the phone? I'm not going to talk to some challenge response bot if I'm someone who needs to be IDd and screened anyway.

Verification of identity (4, Interesting)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499815)

What's the purpose of caller ID after I've picked up the phone?

If someone had acquired some of your personal information, and then tried to impersonate you, an automated voice recognition system could be useful by raising an alarm, or at least giving a percentage of how much their voice is like yours.

Re:Why? (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499827)

this is to shunt the really annoying tech support callers quickly to the waste bin ....

Re:Why? (1)

penguinboy (35085) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499845)

I'm sure identifying the speaker phone conversations in live phone conversations isn't the only use. It probably works on any sort of audio - radio broadcasts, recordings, etc.

Re:Why? (1)

TuballoyThunder (534063) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500253)

I think the purpose is so you can have a contact lookup while you are on the phone. Your computer would show you relevant details about the person. For example, if you were an account manager, you would get information about the client's account. The automated caller ID via voiceprint would avoid the need to type in information while you were on the phone

Re:Why? (1)

KingArthur10 (679328) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500355)

One word: Wiretapping Now they can verify in real-time whether they're listening in on the right person.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501311)

Telemarketers (or anyone, really) who have been told not to call you, but call again anyway.

So, this means... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499773)

that when someone calls me and says "Hi, this is John Smith," I will not be able to use that info to figure out that he's John Smith without violating Microsoft's patent? (Ditto when someone I know well says "Hi, it's me.")

Without help from MS, I have done this for over 10 (1)

kentsin (225902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499777)

You must have done that for longer than that, but YOU NEVER TELL the OTHER PARTY, you are doing that?

Or we have assume that long before we make the call?

NOW I get it... (4, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499789)

...they're looking to patent-troll the CIA!

Brilliant!

/P

How is this different from existing voice recog? (2, Insightful)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499793)

I read the patent, but I guess I don't get it. How is what Microsoft claiming to do different from existing voice recognition systems?

You have to train current voice systems so they recognize your voice pattern (or, acoustic ID) and translate it to text or action. Take that and add a system that keeps profiles for a more advanced version of caller ID. It seems like a natural evolution of the technology.

Re:How is this different from existing voice recog (1)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499959)

Yes, but their system will come pre-programmed with the important voice signatures.

Bill Gates calling...
Caller ID displays: God

But, if there is ever an open source implemenatation of this, it will change to the following...

Bill Gates calling...
Caller ID displays: Don't even THINK about installing Windows(TM) on this caller ID

Re:How is this different from existing voice recog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500025)

Microsoft will get the law changed. Business as usual.

Re:How is this different from existing voice recog (2, Informative)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500681)

"How is what Microsoft claiming to do different from existing voice recognition systems?"

Existing voice recognition systems might be more acurately called speech recognition. They don't recognize the voice (who is speaking); they recognize the speech (what is being said). They can be categorized as speaker dependent or speaker independent.

Speaker dependent speech recognition (type 1) requires complex training by each user. It needs to know all the ways a person pronounces every possible phoneme. During use, it must be given the name of the speaker and a sound sample. It gives back the name of the phoneme. 2 inputs, 1 output.

Speaker independent speech recognition (type 2) is able to identify individual phonemes as spoken by a wide variety of speakers. 1 input, 1 output. That's what I would imagine is the important first step of what MS is claiming to do. Once a phoneme or two has been identified, the name of the phoneme and the captured sound sample can be fed to the type 1 algorithm and it would be able to output the name of the speaker.

Functionally it's different than existing "voice recognition" systems, but I seriously doubt it worthy of a patent.

Re:How is this different from existing voice recog (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500721)

That makes no sense. Just because you can train a system to work better at converting speach to text if it knows your voice pattern, doesn't mean that it can uniquely identify someone from the voice pattern. Those are two different things.....you can't just tell it to run the algorithm in reverse and expect there to be enough information. In fact, you aren't even running it in reverse if you don't have the text version of what they said.

Err (3, Insightful)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499833)

Wont this most likely violate wiretapping laws in two-party states?

Re:Err (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499869)

yes, that is just what i was thinking, in order to do this acoustic caller ID thing they would have to record the caller's voice and recording people in telephone conversations is illegal unless the caller is notified of the call being recorded...

Re:Err (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500075)

Not necessarily. The only "recording" going on is a few kbytes of data temporarily buffered for analysis: if it is immediately discarded and never available to be listened to by a human, I doubt there'd be a problem. The RIAA tried to make a deal out of the temporary storage of music data in a satellite receiver as being a "recording" but that didn't fly either, if I remember correctly.

Re:Err (1)

afaik_ianal (918433) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501447)

By that logic, VoIP would be illegal too. I don't know what the US wiretap laws are like, but I doubt it's illegal to record into temporary buffers.

If they were suggesting recording conversations for later identification, then I imagine there'd be an issue. This is doing the identification on the fly, so is unlikely to be an issue.

For real? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19499837)

"Developers, Developers, Developers. I love this company, yeah" ** Sounds of flying chairs **

Welcome to Microsoft patented caller Identity v1.0 beta
Caller Identified: It's Steve... again

Worse than IP broadcast TO THE WORLD! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19499843)

I had no idea someone I might call might be able to indentify me.

Patenting intelligence (2, Interesting)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499867)

The sort of processing this patent covers is something that hasn't been possible until recently, but I think, in principle, is something absolutely necessary for robust AI, and that is doing recognition simultaneously on both low level features and high level features of data and on intersections of the two.

By "high level" I mean things like word choice, language etc. By low level I imagine they mean things like the specific resonance characteristics of a voice. In voice there are intermediate levels of features too, such a the characteristics of phonemes.

The upshot of this is that just as algorithms and hardware begins to reach a level of power necessary to show intelligence, it will be impossible to do so without stepping on patents.

We will have patents on a machine not being stupid.

Re:Patenting intelligence (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499931)

When machines become capable, for the first time, of being social or moral each basic step toward that will be patentable as well. We will have a patents that covers not-being-evil and one on not-being-an-asshole.

It's a good thing we don't have that sort of problem with children, such that only one family can have children that, say, know the difference between right and wrong and since they patented that no one else is allowed. Or only one family that has children that have a sense of rhythm.

But as computers finally gain the abilities of people, patents become that absurd, they become limits on sentience, ability and personality.

Re:Patenting intelligence (1)

CaptKilljoy (687808) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500055)

>We will have a patents that covers not-being-evil and one on not-being-an-asshole.

AHA! That explains Bender. I guess Farnsworth couldn't afford to license the necessary patents at the time.

Always wondered about that.

Re:Patenting intelligence (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500083)

The sort of processing this patent covers is something that hasn't been possible until recently, but I think, in principle, is something absolutely necessary for robust AI.

Do you know if there are medical applications for tech like this? For example, could it warn "life-line" support for seniors, the 911 dispatcher or EMT of patterns or changes that are probably significant but not obvious to the layman?

Re:Patenting intelligence (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500521)

Do a Google search on "voice recognition" and as a starting point try http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_recognition [wikipedia.org] however I don't think a patent is justified since a quick Google search with "patent" added on will give you 1,140,000 hits. Still it appears if you patent anything in the US and have the money it normally gets granted.

Working implementation? (2, Interesting)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499873)

Do they have a working implementation? Or is this just an IP land grab?

I think I'll patent an automatic car accident risk detector/alarm - no details, just the idea.

Re:Working implementation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500807)

Do they have a working implementation? Or is this just an IP land grab?

IANAL, but I do have 2 patents.

You don't need a working implementation to have a valid patent. However, the information in the patent must be sufficient for someone of ordinary skill in the art to implement the patent.

If the information in the patent isn't detailed enough to implement the patent, it isn't a valid patent.

Prior Art (1)

asamad (658115) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499893)

Does an ear count ? Seems like human being having doing this for ages. Wait I will patent the act of refreshing oneself with ones arm whilst bent between hmmmm 0-90% - that should cover most beer drinkers, I want a tax from all pub's ......

Re:Prior Art (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499975)

Stop being dense. You don't patent a result -- you patent methods. (At least for utility patents. Design patents and biological patents are different, but neither of those apply here.)

So unless their system works by intercepting acoustic waves with an eardrum that vibrates tiny bones that move a liquid that triggers tiny hairs which send electrical sigals to a mass of neurons which somehow figures it out, no, the ear isn't prior art. Considering that we have not much better than "not a clue" how the brain actually associates the sound you hear to memory, I am skeptical that this is how their approach works.

Not a clue (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500049)

Considering that we have not much better than "not a clue" how the brain actually associates the sound you hear to memory, I am skeptical that this is how their approach works.

But "not a clue" is exactly what executives, patent lawyers and patent judges know about how software and say, mathematics, work, so how is this any different? They wrote a patent on something they don't understand and will approve it without understanding it. They might as well be patenting life - oh wait they do that too,

You can't patent something you don't understand (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500011)

Does an ear count ?

I assume you mean "does the human brain count" as the ear doesn't identify sounds. There is a lot of research into the human brain, and how it does what it does so well, but I doubt MS's latest innovation would match the intelligence methodology of the human brain.

Remember, patents require more than an idea, otherwise every Sci-Fi movie in history that has an AI identify the main character when they use a phone would be prior art. You must also explain how it's done.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500159)

Haven't there been.. systems before, to identify who's speaking? Like training a speech recognition system? Or can those tell someone apart from someone else? I don't really know.
Or are there any identification systems that require you say something?
Or does this have to involve a telephone specifically?

Re:Prior Art (1)

AndresCP (979913) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500289)

Yeah, because there are no patents on things humans can do. Like count. Or play chess.

seriously (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19499903)

I wonder if the slashdot community for one whole week could not post anything that has to do with pro-linux or anti-microsoft. Seriously I bet you can't do it.

This technology is limited (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19499907)

The current version can only identify Stephen Hawking.

Maybe... (2)

theantipop (803016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499909)

/. should just put an RSS feed to newly issued patents on the front page. Would cut down on the number of stories per day though.

Wiretapping law (3, Insightful)

w9ofa (68126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499927)

It is my understanding that recording a telephone conversation is against the law in most states, without notifying the other parties on the line.

Thus, a practical device for this patent would most likely be illegal.

Re:Wiretapping law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500095)

IANAL, but I suspect you could create some form of data structure that never stores the audio "conversation", but merely creates the id fingerprint. You would have to make the fingerprint one-way, so the original audio input could not recreated from it. You could also make the ID fast enough that you might only need some sub second of input. Is an utterance a conversation? A sigh? Breath through the nostrils? A weeze?

Re:Wiretapping law (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500175)

That's not the case. In most states [callcorder.com] , you only need the consent of one party to tape record the call. Hence in most states, you can tape your calls without notifying others.

"Can we tape?" (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500225)

It is my understanding that recording a telephone conversation is against the law in most states, without notifying the other parties on the line.
Thus, a practical device for this patent would most likely be illegal.

Do you have to notify a caller that you are using caller ID? Do you have the right to make an anonymous phone call?

This guide for journalists may be helpful: "Can We Tape?" [rcfp.org] But I am not sure that any existing law is a good fit for this new tech.

Re:Wiretapping law (2, Informative)

VisceralLogic (911294) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500359)

If it processes it in real time, it doesn't need to record it, really. Just pass through in and out.

Realtime or not... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501477)

...in order to IDENTIFY you correctly after a few calls it's going to have to record how you say your words and have it in a quickly-accessible database. Otherwise what's there for it to rely upon in identifying the person, a magic pixie?

OT? Who does the "no record" law protect? (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500823)

Would you say something differently if you knew it was being recorded? Why?

Years ago, I put up a sign in the lunch room where I worked, it said "wash your own dishes. Even if no one is looking."

Seems to me the same principle applies here... Eh, what do I know? I hardly say anything to anyone, and when I do, I say what I mean.

On the other hand, in today's world of digital recordings, cut-n-paste, out-of-context quotes, etc. I think "I never said that" should have the same legal weight as a "recording" of me saying it. After all, I can produce a "recording" saying the opposite, and yeah, that is a photo with me, Elvis, and the alien mother ship.

Telescreen (1)

jihadist (1088389) | more than 7 years ago | (#19499969)

Microsoft, Sun, Apple and General Motors announced today they've also patented a talking TV-like device known as a "telescreen" that not only shows entertaining DRM'd media, but also reminds the user when they are behaving badly, eating poorly or being potentially offensive politically to others.

kinda cool (1)

anotherone (132088) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500005)

I know that by the way the article is written we're supposed to think it's an evil invasion of our privacy but honestly this sounds kind of cool.

Re:kinda cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500081)

What's cool about this? Can't you recognize the voice of people you know while talking to them on the phone? What possible use can this technology be without a database full of voice signatures for people that you don't know?

Thus proving the rule (4, Funny)

killmenow (184444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500065)

To patent anything, follow these steps:

1. Choose something already being done in the real world, anything really
2. describe it with maximum verbosity
3. add "on the Internet" at the end

Tada! PATENT!

Re:Thus proving the rule (1)

VisceralLogic (911294) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500517)

I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to remove your post. I have a patent on "3-step" plans on the internet.

For those who are wondering, yes, I have also patented plans with a "N-1. ???", "N. Profit!" (number of question and exclamation marks variable) sequence on the internet.

Re:Thus proving the rule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501075)

As soon as I read this post, I thought "Horseshoes"... and then

Is there a patent for horseshoes for trojans?

'without alerting the caller....' (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500087)

The keywords being:

'without alerting the caller during the call that the caller is being identified'

Don't we have laws against doing stuff with voices without informing people first? And since when is sampling audio, and then converting part or all of the audio to a format based on, and unique to the original, not an act of recording?

Saw this in a movie... (1)

blavallee (729704) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500101)

Hasn't this technology been explained over and over again in big-screen depictions of the NSA's technical capabilities?

Maybe someone from the /. community should just patent 'patent trolling' and put an end to all this FUD.

"Can you guarantee my safety?" (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500197)

"Do you have the box?" 5+ geek creds to anyone who also immediately thought of the same movie :-) Remember, kids. They're the US government. They don't DO that sort of thing. But they'll try.

Re:"Can you guarantee my safety?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500663)

Sneakers represent!

Re:"Can you guarantee my safety?" (2, Funny)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500847)

"The hot chick with the Uzi... can I get her phone number?"

so does this mean (1)

semiotec (948062) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500213)

that everytime I recognise the person on the other end of the phone by recognising their "voice characteristics" I have to pay Microsoft tax?

"Hi mom! oh damn..., I mean, hi stranger whose voice I don't recognise but I am wildly guessing is probably my mother..."

Re:so does this mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500347)

ME: (phone rings) Hello?

VOICE ON PHONE: Hello? Is that you? This is your mother!

ME: (glancing at my screen) Why, yes it is!

Step right up folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19500267)

I'm getting VC interest for a novel system that recognises your speech, converts it to text, and streams that through a voice synthesizer outputting in the language and accent of your choice, thereby spoofing the MS sneaky ID system, all in realtime.

Obviously the pre-alpha version accepts English input and outputs Klingon with a Judge Judy accent, but more language and accent packs will come. Version B will have gender and age variations to overcome discrimination, and the lab guys are working on species translation, this is difficult, so far we can only talk turkey. Minimum investment 1mwahaha but that excludes the domain, website and brand name: Really Awesome Speech Convertrix, Absolutely Lovely - RASCAL tm. Terms and Conditions Apply.

Ballmers gotta hire me now.

Patent the obvious and profit ... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500341)

What this amounts to is the ability of MS to tell people they have to pay a royality if they identify who they are talking to upon receiving a phone call.

Ring Ring

joe: hello

Hello joe.

joe: Who is this?

You know who this is, so hows it going joe?

Joe: Who is this?

Stop fooling around Joe, Are you going to visit soon?

Joe: Who is this?

Well if you don't want to talk then good bye.

click

From the other end. My own son doesn't recognize his own mothers voice...

From Joes end: Must have been some crazy lady with MS stock....

not to forget...
how many times do you get sales calls from the same person at a telemarketing company?
Or a bill collector?

But just imagine what can be accomplished should all the identifications people make on their system be then collected up by the government spy agencies..... without your knowledge.

Of course if you are running a business where those answering the phone can vary but you want to give personalized reception of the call....

Come to think of it.... this technology was already in use around 1993 at some computer distributor in Califorina who used it to identify customer, regardless of what phone they were calling from (nixing caller ID).... As I became aware of just such an incidence and asked them about it. I was told they developed it in-house. I'm sure I could probably find the store name, as it was where I bought and Amiga Toaster 4000 from.

Prior Art - Invented in 1968 (2, Insightful)

sk999 (846068) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500401)

Inventors: Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick

First publication: 2001 A Space Odyssey (Released 1968). Heywood Floyd checks in to the space station:

Female voice: "Thank you. You are cleared through Voiceprint Identification."

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062622/quotes [imdb.com]

I wonder about Pennsylvania cops... (1)

AetherBurner (670629) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500423)

and what they think about this UNANNOUNCED AUDIO RECORDING and processing? I mean, they complain about the public (the people who pay their paychecks) keep tabs on them courtesy of video cameras.

Re:I wonder about Pennsylvania cops... (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500985)

Well, I'm a fellow PA resident, and I love that one fact about our Code, but does this really have to record anything? I'm allowed to write a TRANSCRIPT of a phone call without the callers permission, and I would assume this doesn't do much more (in fact, I'd say it would be less detailed - I can recall who called me last quite easily, but the entire conversation? Hardly. It takes much less brain processing power to remember that much, I would assume the same of a computer program.)

So ... (2, Interesting)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500569)

According to this:
Not only that, it's done 'without alerting the caller during the call that the caller is being identified,'

They are describing a means to RECORD callers without their knowledge, and hence without their consent. So would this software be illegal in some jurisdictions? You bet yer ass it would be.

Wonder how it handles people who say "uhm" or "uhh" a lot. ;)

If they don't save it... (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500735)

If they just process the stream, without saving, it is not "recording".

N,IDNRTFA.

Sneakers (3, Funny)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500665)

My name is Werner Brandes, my voice is my passport. Verify me.

Without the caller's knowlege? OMG! (2, Funny)

TheTranceFan (444476) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500759)

...it's done 'without alerting the caller during the call that the caller is being identified.

...Sometimes...when the phone rings...
...I answer it...and just listen...
...I hear the caller's voice and identify them by their voice...
...Then hang up without saying anything.

How insidious!
What. Is. The. Difference.

Re:Without the caller's knowlege? OMG! (1)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500855)

I'm just wondering who talks on the phone if no one has answered the phone? If the phone is still ringing then are you really talking?

Isn't caller ID good enough? And if someone blocks their phone, isn't waiting till they leave a message to pick up acceptable? Why do I need this on my answering machine?

I guess I could see this useful for telmarketers. They would then be able to tell who answered and say hello is your mother home.

Re:Without the caller's knowlege? OMG! (1)

Stonehand (71085) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500975)

Think automated systems and fraud-detection / warning systems. Caller ID identifies the phone in a spoofable manner, if memory serves; it does not identify the person using the phone, nor is it useful if a trusted person is calling from a different phone.

This might be useful for low-security automated systems where having people key in passcodes or account numbers isn't necessarily appropriate. It might also be useful for warning a human recipient when something seems not quite right -- imitating somebody's voice over a "bad connection" -- depending on how well it works. ...or if you're intercepting calls on a roving wiretap, and need to be able to stop recording ASAP if the people involved are not actually covered by your warrant... or to notify a surveillance team when a particular voice of interest is heard via a particular bug.

Re:Without the caller's knowlege? OMG! (1)

TheTranceFan (444476) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500997)

Good point. I guess one difference is that Caller ID can be blocked on the caller's end, but you can't use the phone without using a voice. A boon for those providing voice-obfuscation technology? (Never worked when I tried to call the office to get out of school back in the day ;-) )

Previous work (1)

renrutal (872592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500809)

That's weird, I just read today a bank from Brazil adopting a voice recognition system to bill their clients.

"The software, created by VoxAge, reads some of the client's data, call him and then asks his name and other stuff. Then, depending on his answers, the client is forwarded to a call center."

I'd say both Microsoft and that software do the same thing, transform the voice into data, then analyze it with some other data previously stored in a database.

Sounds cool, but... (2, Insightful)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 7 years ago | (#19500911)

I have Caller ID so I know who's calling BEFORE I pick up the phone, not afterwards.

4th Amendment? (2, Insightful)

ivanmarsh (634711) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501033)

Should I even ask? Does the 4th Amendment mean anything anymore?

Cops bust a guy for video taping them and charge him with wiretapping and Microsoft is going to be recording my voice and compiling a profile of me and that's okay?

Words I'm guessing it will be looking for by default: bomb, liberal, weed, nuke, bush, 1st Amendment.

My tinfoil hat is starting to look stylish.

Re:4th Amendment? (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501209)

Hey!

I hold the patent for the Tinfoil Hat.

YOU OWE ME ROYALTIES!

But we can settle out of court for a mere 15M.....

Neato! (1)

b00fhead (669286) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501239)

"A new patent granted to Microsoft Tuesday...

Patch Tuesday gets a patent granted? w00t!

Read any spy book.. (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501253)

I guess the NSA will come after them with prior art :-)

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19501349)

I do it every goddamned time I pick up the phone.

Hello? Oh, hi Jack. Not much, just violating another idiotic patent. How about you?

ring ring... ring ring... (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501429)

"Hello, this is Bill Gates. I know who you are."

Caller ID? Typical Microsoft solution. (1)

WoollyMittens (1065278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501537)

Is it just me, or is a caller ID more useful when you know who's calling before you pick up and speak to them?

ridiculous (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19501543)

Speaker identification has been researched for decades. Microsoft isn't offering a breakthrough solution to the problem, they are instead trying to patent the whole field.

This is roughly the equivalent of trying to patent "3D graphics acceleration" or "data compression".
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