Elías Pérez
2012, Spain
Security in identifying partners for voice calls
Computer Science

Caller Identification Security.

“These are your daughter’s confidential results”. This phrase, said by the pediatrician of a newborn baby to the mother draws a mental picture of a face-to-face conversation, where the doctor and the woman speak in the same room. The delicate information that is to be said requires absolute certainty of the speakers’ identities, and a physical encounter can almost entirely guarantee that.

However, the situation is very different from what we had imagined. In fact these two people are miles away from each other and communicate through IdentityCall, the voice over IP authentication system created by TR35 winner, Elías Pérez. This technology offers the recipient nearly the same level of certainty about the caller’s identity as if they were both standing face to face.

Pérez, cofounded the technology consulting firm Quobis in 2004 while he was working on his doctorate. Today, the company has conceived the project IdentityCall. His objective was to create a product for institutions and large companies, as well as for telecommunications operators interested in offering their clients high levels of security in voice calls.

Using IdentityCall is simple: through the device where the service is installed, the user dials the phone number of whomever he or she wants to call. The system will ask the caller to input his electronic ID in the smartcard reader and type his PIN number. When the recipient answers, the call starts and the transmission is encrypted (to avoid call interceptions) and registered through a central server. The clients can make a call using the application from a computer (with smartcard or digital certificate) or from a tablet or smartphone (in this case, only using the certificate).

“Competitors are securing identification by biometric solutions or other context information, such as IP address or geolocation, which can be easily distorted”, says Pérez. “We consider that the need for something tangible, a certificate or smartcard, will remain on the market for many years and will be the paradigm of digital identity ", he adds.

The TR35 winner considers that promising advances have been made in the field of voice biometrics and that this technology could “possibly be complementary” to the system that his company offers. However, he notes that this technology, contrary to his proposal, still has to overcome several challenges like “the recognizer training, the elimination of background noise, and the segmentation of the caller”, aspects that distinguish IdentityCall as a more attractive product, especially for their target markets. “Quobis is working directly with banks, health organizations, insurance companies and the Defense department to show them this product”, says Perez. “Moreover, we are in touch with eight global telecommunication companies, including Vodafone, Telenor, Telefónica, Verizon and AT&T, and we hope to announce the first contracts in short time”, concludes the innovator.