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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

U Arizona start-up looks to commercialize high-tech deception detector

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: September 5th, 2018

A University of Arizona (UA) start-up aims to commercialize a technology that uses advanced sensors to determine whether or not a person is answering questions deceptively.

Discern Science International is focused on using the technology known as AVATAR, or Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time, to improve security at the border, though the company plans to eventually apply AVATAR across a broad range of fields.

The technology works by recording an interviewee’s facial expressions in high-definition video, while numerous sensors measure and record thousands of signals from the subject’s voice, body and eyes. Using a complex algorithm, AVATAR produces color-coded results almost instantly. Green means the subject is clear, yellow means there are some warning signs to be investigated, and red means there are serious issues that require deeper investigation.

“The AVATAR technology was developed for the most rigorous and difficult task of detecting deception at the border,” says Jay Nunamaker, director of the UA Center for the Management of Information and president and CEO of Discern Science. “It had to allow innocent people to quickly pas through the border while simultaneously identifying those attempting deception, and to do it all in about 30 seconds.”

Tech Launch Arizona (TLA), the university’s commercialization arm, worked to protect the intellectual property and helped license AVATAR to Discern Science.

“I continue to be excited by the broad range of intellectual property related to the fourth industrial revolution being developed at UA,” says Doug Hockstad, assistant vice president of TLA. “We’re excited to be partnering with Jay and the Discern Science team to contribute to a more secure society.”

Source: UA News

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