Voice technology specialist Nuance this week is expected to unveil a call center application that uses voiceprints to authenticate customers over the phone before letting them access private information and secure transactions.Voice technology specialist\u00a0Nuance\u00a0this week is expected to unveil a call center application that uses voiceprints to authenticate customers over the phone before letting them access private information and secure transactions.Instead of using conventional touch-tone passwords, callers can identify themselves using their voices with Nuance Caller Authentication 1.0. The application, which runs on Windows 2000 and sits in front of a company's computer telephony integration server, compares words spoken by a caller to those stored in a pre-recorded voiceprint. Nuance describes a voiceprint as a matrix of numbers that reflect the physical characteristics of a person's vocal tract, and behavioral characteristics related to the way a person speaks.The Nuance software validates or rejects the identity of a caller before allowing access to a company's other call center systems. Once positively identified, a caller can perform automated functions, such as making a payment, checking an account balance or authorizing a stock trade, using traditional interactive voice response systems.One important feature is that Nuance wraps back-up questions, such as asking a person to press or say the last four digits of his Social Security number, into the verification process, says Bill Meisel, president of research company TMA Associates.Companies don't want legitimate customers turned away frustrated because the system can't positively identify the physical characteristics of their voices over a weak cell phone connection or in a noisy airport setting, he says. Using a combination of biometric and standard voice automation tools to verify callers is appealing to users.Nuance Caller Authentication is built on top of the vendor's existing Verifier voice authentication platform. The new application bundles a pre-built voice user interface with standard configuration settings and reporting tools for tracking metrics such as user enrollment, call volume and security events.Using Nuance's bundled application, rather than building an application from scratch, can speed deployment time from a typical 12-month cycle to four or five months, says Regina Carriere, senior product marketing manager at Nuance.Nuance Caller Authentication 1.0 costs $2,700 per port. Its competition includes ScanSoft's\u00a0SpeechSecure\u00a0speaker verification technology.