Speaker Verification and Identification

Speaker Recognition can be classified by function in:

• Speaker Verification – the process of accepting or rejecting the identity claim of a speaker;

• Speaker Identification - the process of determining which registered speaker provides a given utterance.

In speaker verification, a voice print of an unknown speaker who claims an identity is compared with a model for the speaker whose identity is being claimed. If the match is good enough, the identity claim is accepted. A high threshold reduces the probability of impostors being accepted by the system, increasing the risk of falsely rejecting valid users. On the other hand a low threshold enables valid users to be accepted consistently, but with the risk of accepting impostors. In order to set the threshold at the optimal level of impostor acceptance (false acceptance) and customer rejection (false rejection), data showing impostor scores and distributions of customer are needed.

In the speaker identification task, a voice print of an unknown speaker is analyzed and then compared with speech samples of known speakers. The unknown speaker is identified as the speaker whose model best matches the input model.

One of the differences between identification and verification is the number of decision alternatives. In verification there are only two choices, acceptance or rejection. In identification, the number of decision alternatives is equal to the number of population. Thus, while speaker verification performance doesn’t depend on the size of the population, speaker identification performance decreases as the size of the population increases.

It should be mentioned that there is also a case called “open set” identification, in which a reference sample for an unknown speaker may not exist.

The efficacy of speaker verification systems can be measured by using the receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curve adopted from psychophysics. The ROC curve is obtained considering two probabilities:

• the probability of correct acceptance (false rejection rate);

• the probability of incorrect acceptance (false acceptance rate).

These probabilities are assigned to the vertical and horizontal axes respectively, varying the decision threshold.

Another measure of system performance is the equal-error rate (EER). It corresponds to the threshold at which the false rejection rate is equal to the false acceptance rate.

Speaker verification is generally used in applications which require secure access. The systems operate with the user's knowledge and usually require their cooperation.

Speaker identification systems generally operate without the user's knowledge. It can be applied in routing users to the correct mailbox, identifying talkers in a discussion, alerting speech recognition systems of speaker changes, checking if a user is already enrolled in a system, etc. Speaker identification is also used for police purposes. For instance, a criminal's voice can be cross checked against a database of criminals' voices looking for a match, and ergo the identity.

Speaker identification problems consist in:

  • Verification Distinguishing multiple speakers during a conversation;
  • Identifying an individual's voice based upon previously supplied data regarding that individual's voice.

Speaker identification is based on complex voice processing algorithms. In contrast, speaker verification is based on more simple voice print comparing.


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