ATM Can Tell If You're Lying

Leave it to the Russians. Their biggest retail bank, Sberbank, is testing out a new kind of ATM that has a built-in lie detector.

Besides dispensing cash, the machine also lets consumers apply for credit cards. Their identity is confirmed by scanning a passport, taking a fingerprint and taking a face scan. Then the kiosk asks a series of questions to determine the prospective borrower’s credit worthiness, like, “Are you employed?” and, “At this moment, do you have any other outstanding loans?”

Here’s where the fun part kicks in. It then uses voice-analysis software, designed by the Speech Technology Center, whose other big client is the Russian domestic intelligence agency the Federal Security Service, to detect if you are not telling the truth.

How did they get it to do that? One thing that helped was by sampling recordings taken by Russian police of suspects who later turned out to be lying. The software is able to detect nervousness or emotional distress by measuring involuntary nervous responses.

Additionally, NYT reports that Sberbank “said the voice-stress system analyzed vibrations as shaped by the contours of an individual’s throat, larynx and other tissue involved in speech. When a person becomes agitated…involuntary nervous reactions alter these shapes, changing the tone and pacing of speech.”

A little too invasive for your tastes? “We are not violating a client’s privacy,” a rep for the Sberbank, whose majority owner is the Russian government, scoffed to the New York Times. “We are not climbing into the client’s brain. We aren’t invading their personal lives. We are just trying to find out if they are telling the truth. I don’t see any reason to be alarmed.”

A Russian A.T.M. With an Ear for the Truth [NYT]