Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"Skype stress detector calls my mother a liar":
With the recent release of Skype 3.0 for the PC (Mac and Linux users will have to wait), the company has made some intriguing third-party "extras" available from within Skype. One of those, the KiskKish lie detector, claims to do "voice stress analysis" on Skype calls, measuring the stress in the other party's voice for signs of deception.

The program is based on the observation that, when people lie, their voices tend to rise in frequency. Tension throughout the body tightens sensitive vocal chords and produces higher-pitched sounds that can be measured by machines.

Anecdotal testing of the KishKish software reveals, among other things, that my mother is a massive liar, especially when it comes to the contents of Christmas dinner. A needle charts the speaker's stress on a graph in real time after taking the first 10 seconds of a call to establish a baseline stress level. A small light also changes from green to red when stress levels are abnormally high, perhaps a signal that the person is lying.