INTERVIEW: Sensory CEO Todd Mozer

TrulySecure 2.0 was released this week and I recently had a chance to speak with Sensory’s CEO, Todd Mozer, about what’s new with this latest update.

New And Improved

AppLock EnrollTrulySecure is one of the flagship biometric solutions from Sensory, Inc. A biometric software platform, TrulySecure offers face and voice based biometric authentication on mobile devices, leveraging Deep Learning and neural networks to bolster the matching ability. Using the front facing camera and microphone that come standard on all smartphones for biometric capture, and having achieved FIDO Certified status, the most recent update—TrulySecure 2.0—is ready to bring contactless authentication to mobile users everywhere.

“We’ve done some interim improvements so it’s not as big a leap from the current shipping version, but from the 1.0 to the 2.0 it’s really quite remarkable,” Sensory CEO Todd Mozer tells me. He says that from the recent shipping versions he can claim a 50 percent combined improvement, but “really the combined improvement is substantially more than that. It’s more like a 90 percent decrease in errors combined, if you’re going from 1.0 to 2.0. We’re just assuming a later, more recent version change.”

One of the reasons such an amazing increase is made possible, especially considering the time scale between versions (TrulySecure was launched just over a year ago), is that Sensory has been collecting data from its AppLock mobile application. Mozer tells me my data, since I have AppLock installed on my smartphone, contributed to TrulySecure 2.0.

“We did get data from every user,” he tells me, “and that allows us to use the more Big Data, deep learning approaches.With our particular approach we’re using convolution and deep neural nets with the deep learning and all the data we’ve gathered and that causes the vision technology to substantially improve.”

Getting it Out There

facial recognition“People’s first reaction when we went around and said, ‘We’ve got this face solution’? Their answer was, ‘Oh, well, we’ve tried face and it doesn’t work.’”

This is the adoption barrier for new facial recognition based authentication solutions: only recently have innovations like TrulySecure made it a viable modality for consumer applications. Thanks to early versions of sub-par facial recognition lock screen features on smartphones, like the notoriously spoofable Face Unlock on previous versions of Android. TrulySecure is obviously much more qualified for the job of user authentication, but the reputation of smartphone facial recognition does present a challenge.

I asked Mozer how Sensory is overcoming that negative facial recognition stigma.

“The only way to attack it is to get people to use it,” he says. “To combat that we’ve got to get customers to try it. You know, usually when people start using it they have the immediate reaction “Oh, this seems to really work.” And then the next thing they do is try everything they can to break it, and that’s where they really get a better understanding of how accurate it is and how unspoofable it is.”

A big factor in getting people to try TrulySecure 2.0 will be Sensory’s new Starter Partner Program that also launched this week. Mozer tells me one of the great things about TrulySecure is that “[we] don’t need to do a lot of handholding to implement it.”

“We wanted to create a program that would allow a larger amount of customers to quickly try out and adopt our technology and get it to market and see what they think,” Mozer says. So sensory built a program “where price wasn’t a hurdle, where legal agreements weren’t a hurdle, and where there was no technology or SDK kind of hurdles.”

Sensory has built a line of SDKs that are able to implement the technology quickly for very little investment on the part of the developer. “I wouldn’t say there’s no barrier to entry because we’re certainly not trying to appeal to you know, the college student kind of population, but for a relatively small investment of $5,000 a company can get the SDK, get started, and have a six month license to use the technology and try it out in the real market.”

The idea behind the program, Mozer tells me,  is that most of the implementations Sensory expects will just be replacing PIN sign on with biometrics. “So if somebody had an application where they use the PIN to access it, the application is already done.  They just have to take out that PIN interface and put in our interface. And we give them all the sample code to get going with that.”

Truly Flexible

speech and voice

TrulySecure 2.0, as a software solution, is already versatile. It doesn’t require any special hardware to be implemented on a mobile device. Additionally, it’s flexible in terms of scalability. For total convenience, you can use facial recognition on its own, but you can scale up with the addition of a voice factor, which adds more biometrics but also serves as a type of liveness detection. Talking creates movement, and Sensory’s software can see that.

Of course, TrulySecure’s liveness detection goes beyond macro movements. Mozer tells me:  “If we have to do liveness we’ll just look for little twitches and  normal blinks that you would do. We can even sense skin motion and skin movement, you know—just with minor twitches or anything like that—to do liveness for us.”

Liveness detection is part of a bigger conversation in authentication that has been particularly prevalent this year: system integrity. Sensory, as detailed briefly above, gains a great deal of accuracy and integrity in its offerings through the use of Deep Learning technology and neural networks. Even using an earlier version of TrulySecure, I saw this in action as AppLock learned to recognize my face and voice better and faster.

I ask Mozer about the relative lack of Deep Learning features in consumer facing biometrics solutions despite this industry focus on integrity. “We’re just in the early days of getting rid of the passwords,” he says. “People are at the stage where they realize passwords don’t make sense, and they’re starting to experiment with different kinds of biometrics. And to be frank, TrulySecure is a pretty new product.”

That is true, and it’s worth keeping in mind as we approach the end of a major year in biometrics. TrulySecure is new, and it stands out in a lot of ways, including its use of neural nets and embedded nature. While 2015 has been a big year for the visibility of biometrics, particularly from an end user perspective, the market is still nascent and Sensory is well positioned to take advantage of this situation. Closing the conversation, Mozer tells me that he has high expectations for the future of Sensory, in which TrulySecure clearly plays an important role.

(Originally posted on FindBiometrics)