VoiceSecureIt Reviewby: Kris Keilhack
November 2, 2006
September marked the announcement of VoiceIt Technologies’ VoiceSecureIt security program for Palm OS devices. The press materials promised a revolutionary way of securing a Palm OS device using complex biometric voice recognition technology. I immediately knew I had to try this software out ASAP!
Testing Methodology and Performance
I was originally very excited to download and try this piece of software out on my Treo 700p. What began as initial enthusiasm soon turned into a total aggravation. It usually took one out of ten tries to unlock my Treo. I rerecorded my pass phrase multiple times in a variety of acoustical environments. I tried my parked car with the engine off, in a carpeted walk-in closet, in my living room, with my hand cupped around the bottom of my Treo and in nearly every quiet real-world setting I could think of. I spoke in a flat, even-toned voice and used simple, mono or bi-syllabic words for my pass phrase.
Quite often I’d push the home button to begin recording and the program would not even recognize that I had spoken my pass phrase. Usually waiting until the program beeped and timed out would allow it to hear me properly on the second attempt but my phrase still was not recognized.
Another small annoyance was that after numerous failed recognition attempts (think at least a half-dozen or more tries each time I wanted to unluck my Treo), I would go to unlock my Treo with the character-based password entry. The password must be typed in using an awkwardly arranged onscreen keyboard and no support for the Treo’s hard keyboard is provided. I usually gave up and kept the program disabled 99% of the time.
It was also all too easy to accidentally enable the program. Several times I pressed “v” on the Treo’s keyboard, intending to evoke the Palm voice memo app, but end up tapping the Voice SecureIt icon by mistake and locking up the Treo!
The aggravation actually began prior to installing the program with Voice-It’s complex unlock/registration web-based system. I was also dismayed to find that the program’s whole footprint (comprising the stored pass phrase and the voice prompts) occupied an astounding 1880k of my Treo’s main memory.
Fortunately there are a few highlights to report from my month with the application. The actual app oozes professionalism in its aesthetic appearance. The title screen features attractive shading and features legible fonts and icons. Another helpful feature that can be toggled on or off are the audible voice prompts giving instructions to the user. A pleasant sounding female voice is used to good effect here. I’m pleased to report that the application was stable throughout usage on my 700p. Aside from this minor points, the overall experience with this app was very disheartening.
I cannot recommend this app in its current form under any circumstances other than as a high-priced novelty. Perhaps a future revision will improve its accuracy. Until then, any Treo user who values their sanity will stick to more conventional methods (ie keyboard text-based) means of securing their devices. I sincerely hope, for the sake of mobile users everywhere, that VoiceIt Technologies’ other products fare better under daily use than this one.
VoiceSecureIt is available for $24.95.Bulk quantity licensing discounts are available for institutional or corporate use. In addition, an upgrade version for previously registered users is available for $4.95.
- Good concept hampered by poor implementation and voice accuracy
- Attractive presentation and main menu GUI
- Poor voice recognition performance
- Pricey considering the limited value and bugginess of the recognition algorithm
- Awful onscreen keyboard with no support for Treo keyboards
- Huge memory footprint makes it unattractive to 680/700p users and downright impossible for 650 users.
My overall rating: 1.5 / 5