Your conventional ATM really isn't that concerned with who you are. It just wants a card and a PIN number, and if those two things line up it won't ask questions. Let the humans sort it out, right? Well, no longer — Russia, land of bomb-proof toilets, is looking to put out a smarter, somewhat scary auto-teller that really does grill you for answers.
Sberbank, Russia's largest retail bank, is designing an ATM so fancy that it could eliminate the need for customers to ever talk to a human — even if they have had no previous contact with the bank and want to open a new account.
Some of the new technologies being tested include vocal lie detection developed by Speech Technology Center, a Russian-based company that also does work for the nation's intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service. On the surface, the software works a lot like your average lie detector, measuring for emotional distress and nervousness. It also goes a little further, however, analyzing the "shape" of your voice by detecting the vibrations caused by your speech.
3D facial mapping and recognition and less exciting fingerprint scanning are also in the works. This security measure cocktail would also be used in conjunction with an existing customer's credit card and history to prove his identity when using the machine.
So, let's say you want to open an account. This is what you may be subjected to, according to the New York Times:
The machine scans a passport, records fingerprints and takes a three-dimensional scan for facial recognition. And it uses voice-analysis software to help assess whether the person is truthfully answering questions that include "Are you employed?" and "At this moment, do you have any other outstanding loans?"
That's quite a bit of information — not to mention power — to give a simple ATM, though Sberbank says that its machines will comply with the local Russian privacy laws, and if the machines are installed it will be the first use of vocal recognition employed in this way in the banking world.
Well, mostly comply with the local privacy laws: Sberbank says that to comply with the part of the privacy law that would prohibit a company from keeping a database of customers' voice signatures, the bank plans to store customers' voice prints on chips contained in their credit cards.
"We are not violating a client's privacy," a Sberbank executive told 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."