AiThority Interview with Alexey Khitrov, CEO and President at ID R&D
Know My Company
What is your role at ID R&D and what drove you to co-found the company?
I am the CEO and President of ID R&D. When co-founder Konstantin Simonchik and I founded the company, our vision was to create an authentication experience across all platforms, applications, and devices that were secure as well as effortless. Both of us had a deep domain experience in biometrics, and it was easy for us to see how biometrics could provide security while enhancing the user experience. Just as a friend recognizes you and doesn’t require you to verify your identity, we want to deliver that same experience to any interaction you have with technology.
What are the key drivers behind Biometric Authentication and how do you see this technology evolving over the next few years?
Not to sound hyperbolic, but the industry is exploding. Gartner just predicted that the number of businesses using Biometric Authentication on smartphone apps for workforce access will grow from fewer than 5 percent in 2018 to 70 percent in 2022. We’re seeing Biometric Authentication in cars, healthcare, travel, and, in every industry. At the same time, voice as an interface is also exploding. NPR just found that US households have acquired 118 million smart speakers by the end of 2018 – a 78% increase in 12 months. These two trends – increased adoption of biometric authentication and increased use of the voice interface – are driving growth and creating complementary demand. Users are increasingly expecting better customer experience (CX) they get from simplified authentication and interaction with their technology.
How does Biometrics Authentication technology deliver the security required for highly sensitive data?
Great question. We think of this way – authentication has to be comprised of two questions: The first is, Is this the right person? By identifying users by who they are – through a voice, a face, the way they handle a device – biometrics can offer much more accurate authentication than by identifying them by what they know – a password, security questions, etc. But you can’t stop there. The second question has to be: Is this a real person? And by that, I mean that authentication systems have to be able to distinguish between a live face and a photo, may be uploaded from someone’s Instagram account, or between a live voice and a recording or a computer-generated clip. To accomplish that, the best authentication systems combine two separate sets of algorithms – one for biometric matching and another one for anti-spoofing. After all, perfect biometric matches that can be spoofed with a photo or sound clip are useless from a security standpoint.
It is also essential that biometric authentication is continuous, where users are verified repeatedly throughout a session or at each transaction – not just “one and done” at login. It is much harder to spoof multiple modalities continuously because biometrics are being constantly analyzed while the user is engaging naturally with an application. These are the challenges on the security side of things, on the UX side, we see a strong push toward frictionless experience and simplification of any steps required from the end user. The ability to combine these two seemingly counter-directional trends of additional security and user-friendly UX is where we see the opportunity to apply our scientific and tech capabilities and change the way customers communicate with the enterprise.
How do you incorporate AI and how do you see AI’s role in authentication?
AI underpins everything we do for biometric authentication. For instance, we use AI to analyze voice, face, and behavioral data like keystroke dynamics, mobile device gyroscopic sensors, voiceprints, and faceprints. We were recently accepted into Microsoft’s IoT and AI Insider Labs program and have been testing some new developments there. As to the role of AI in authentication, let’s use voice as an example. Whereas humans use audio recognition to identify people in the world all the time, we are really not as good as machines at detecting the subtleties of voice. And AI is incredibly good at it. Because of AI, we’ve been able to deliver industry-leading accuracy and speed to the authentication process. AI also applies in other elements of authentication, such as knowing your habits of when and where you tend to log in, and it gets better with data from each interaction. AI, and its speed and breadth is what will push authentication entirely into the background and render perceptible login processes obsolete.
What are the different modes of Biometric Authentication and how does AI Biometric Authentication differ from other forms of authentication?
It’s an exciting time as there are new biometric modalities appearing every day. Voice, face, fingerprint, retina scans, keystroke – these are the ones people are most familiar with. Others, like ways to analyze a user’s walk, a pulse, a blink, are some of the newer ones. In terms of market adoption, we think that voice shows the most promise for a number of reasons. Users are increasingly comfortable with a voice interface and looking to use it in more applications. Voice can be totally frictionless as users can be identified solely by how they would regularly speak into their phones. It’s easy to integrate into different platforms. It’s easy to deploy. After initial enrollment, the user forgets entirely about a noticeable log-in as AI constantly monitors a transaction. All of these elements combine for a better CX, which is where the industry is heading. Considering the ubiquity of mobile devices, we’re excited to see new voice-based applications and how they will reimagine what’s possible in mobile applications.
Which companies would benefit the most from adopting biometric authentication and why?
There are 2 main use cases for biometrics: security and personification of services. Security is what first comes to mind. We need to provide positive user verification in order to share sensitive data or conduct monetary transactions. So financial services are where we’re seeing a lot of adoption. Personification is a new trend and can be beneficial to any industry. One example would be in smart cars: You get into your car and say “turn the radio on”. The Infotainment system would understand the command and tune to your favorite station. But let’s imagine that you share your car with your partner and when he or she gets in a car and say “turn the radio on” the technology should be able to recognize who the command came from based on the voice biometric info and tune to the station of your partner’s choice. This type of personification of services will be coming to common devices in any industry over the next few years.
How will the login experience for end users evolve over the next five years? Will it be different for less-risky areas like smart homes vs. financial transactions?
I think that in 5 years there will be no login experience. As more applications and devices integrate biometric authentication, an explicit login process will become increasingly obsolete. Like I said earlier, AI means our technology will simply and automatically “know” us. We’re already seeing some fascinating use cases. I know in Europe, some banks are going entirely cardless in favor of biometrics. Because multimodal biometrics are so accurate and offer a much better CX, I think that we’ll be using biometric authentication in every application from personal leisure to enterprise security in the not-too-distant future.
What other authentication or biometric startups are you excited about?
FacePhi is a great company. Their technology allows users to take a selfie, which then becomes their method of identification and interaction with a bank’s mobile application.
Is there one word that best describes your work?
What apps/software/tools do you use the most?
My phone. Slack. Google Docs. Zoom.
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
I make a quick list at night to help me prioritize the three things I need to accomplish the next day. The next morning, I try to push my to-do list as far as it will go before I check emails or return calls. Being intentional about how to spend the day is essential, otherwise, my whole day will get eaten up by new things that come in.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading The Last Man Who Knew Everything by David Schwartz. It’s a fascinating account of the brilliance and humanity of nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi. I try to keep a book at hand, though most of my reading is online, and it’s usually tech news.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Someone once told me that “the answer is always “no” until you ask”. So don’t be afraid to ask.
Thank you, Alexey! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.
Alexey Khitrov is president and CEO at ID R&D, an award-winning biometric solutions provider offering proprietary AI-based behavioral, voice, and anti-spoofing user authentication capabilities. Prior to ID R&D, Alexey was the president and CEO at SpeechPro, a provider of speech recording, processing, analysis and voice biometrics.
ID R&D is a biometric vendor that focuses on the next generation of authentication technologies. We offer award-winning multi-factor, multi-modal biometric authentication technology for an unparalleled minimalistic user experience. Our biometric product portfolio is comprised of AI-based behavioral, voice, and anti-spoofing user authentication solutions for mobile devices, servers, private clouds, and IoT architectures.