Lie-Detecting Digital Border Official Could Streamline Screening Interviews

Meet Elvis. Elvis was born in an Arizona lab and then given a job with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP). Elvis can tell if you’re lying.

Using three sensors: a microphone, an infrared camera, and a high-definition camera, this Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time (AVATAR) kiosk monitors physiological responses to questions to confirm if a person is being truthful.

Nicknamed Elvis, the AVATAR kiosk is currently being employed in field testing at Dennis DeConcini Port in Nogales, Ariz. with hopes of cutting down processing time on those looking to enroll in the “Trusted Traveler” program. The program allows low-risk travelers to fast-track border security procedures.

Doug Derrick, a member of the University of Arizona team that developed Elvis, claims that the kiosk can cut processing time down to five minutes with twice the accuracy of a person-to-person interview.

“People have a hard time detecting small changes in the frequency of the human voice, that a computer is much better at,” Derrick said.” “People are accurate about 54% of the time at detecting deception … We have got our machine as high as 90% in the lab.”

Elvis’s microphone is optimized to detect changes in vocal quality, pitch and frequency. Its infrared camera monitors pupil dilation, and its high-definition camera records even minute facial expressions.

The kiosk works by asking the subject Yes or No questions which are then responded to in English or Spanish. If Elvis recognizes abnormalities in the responses, the subject is passed on to a “human field agent,” who takes him through a more careful interview process.

The Elvis kiosk is currently in the early phases of testing, but could be introduced into other CBP operations.

Did we mention he has a great head of hair? He has a great head of hair.

(Story via CNN, image courtesy of the University of Arizona)

About the author  ⁄ Erik Helin

Erik is the chief Copywriter with BrickHouse Security. Hailing from the Midwest (Wisconsin), Erik moved to NYC in 2010, securing a job at BrickHouse shortly thereafter. Outside of work he writes about music, does freelance advertising work, and wastes his life on the internet. Aside from no-brainers like cheese and beer, Erik enjoys music, travel, TV, his cat, and Brooklyn.