Apple is working on an update to Siri that aims to allow it to authenticate your voice more securely. Siri already recognizes mainly the voice of its owner, but impostors can still use Siri. In the near future, Siri will be able to detect and block voices that it does not recognize.


Voice authentication is not new in itself. We have seen some LG ThinQ smartphones offer it before the manufacturer decides to stop its mobile activities. Google Assistant can also learn how to recognize your voice with Voice Match to personalize the user experience. However, these devices are often quite a gadget for the time being. Recognition doesn’t work every time which can lead to a frustrating user experience.

Voice is rarely used, for the time being, to really secure functionalities. But that could soon change on iPhones. Apple is in fact working on a new feature for Siri around privacy. In a patent spotted by the Patently Apple site, we discover that the firm is developing a system called Voice Activity Detection (VAD) which consists of combining the characteristics of the voice with the data captured by the accelerometer of the smartphone or accessories such as Apple Watch and AirPods.

Siri may soon block voice commands when iPhone detects an impostor

The accelerometer is a small MEMS chip with a moving element with teeth that vibrates in a specific direction. When the position of the smartphone changes, the vibrations shift, generating an electrical signal. Thus this chip makes it possible to precisely capture movements in space. The idea is that we are steeped in repetitive habits and behaviors and each user has a specific way of entering their smartphone. When the user orders something from Siri by grabbing the smartphone, the device analyzes all this data and calculates a score.

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If the conjunction voice recognition + movement recognition leads to a high score, the authentication is then valid. If necessary, the smartphone detects that it is an impostor and blocks the order. The function reminds us a bit of how some Captcha buttons work – those who ask you to confirm that you are not a robot by simply checking a box. These devices observe the movements of the mouse on the page for a few seconds to determine whether a human is indeed the source of the click and not a robot.

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The actual patent was filed with the U.S. Patent Office sometime in Q4 2019 – but it wasn’t validated until last week. It is impossible to say at this point when the feature will be deployed. We also note that Apple, like many companies, files a mountain of patents each year without all of them being exploited, at least immediately.

Source: Patently Apple

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