Atlanta-based security startup Pindrop has raised $90 million in a Series D round to fund its voice security platform, reports TechCrunch.
The round was led by Vitruvian Partners, with participation from Allegion Ventures, Cross Creek, Dimension Data, and Goldman Sachs, among others. The company plans to use the money to expand into Europe — most of its existing business is in the US — as well as to build out its presence on connected devices, such as smart speakers.
Pindrop’s platform uses software to analyze the attributes of a speaker’s voice and other sounds being transmitted to verify their identity and circumstances. It’s able to use over 1,000 acoustic attributes that enable the platform to determine who is speaking — ensuring that the person is who they say they are — what device they’re using, and whether they are in a certain location, like their home, for instance. This vocal “fingerprint,” as the company calls it, lets the platform identify and flag abnormal circumstances, which can be used to prevent or delay suspicious transactions or set other security measures into action.
As voice continues to cement its place as the dominant means of control in the smart home, there’s ample opportunity to provide a security overlay. Companies that build and maintain voice assistants already do this to some extent, with Amazon letting consumers set up Alexa Voice Profiles and Google supporting Voice Match on its Google Home.
But these systems aren’t foolproof; Google warns that a “voice that sounds like yours might be able to get these results, too,” for example. And that could allow, as Pindrop CEO Vijay Balasubramaniyan pointed out, for an impostor to call a person’s home phone while they’re out and trigger a smart speaker through an answering machine, impersonating the user to change smart home device settings and even potentially unlock a door — though this is precisely why most smart locks can’t be unlocked by voice.
Added layers of security on the smart speaker could spur new use cases for the devices and drive up confidence to use them for tasks involving money. Among respondents to Business Insider Intelligence’s Smart Speaker survey, just 22% of smart speaker owners had purchased something through their devices.
A voice-based security platform like Pindrop’s overlaid on an assistant like Alexa could add confidence that a smart speaker will only make purchases when an authorized user is giving a command, and this could lead more consumers to use the devices for commerce. Pindrop could be an attractive partner for smart speaker developers to work with to incorporate greater security into voice commerce platforms.