Truster's 'gee whiz' polygraph

May 25, 1998|By Craig Crossman | Craig Crossman,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

From time to time, I discover a computer product that breaks the "gee whiz" barrier. Truster shatters it with room to spare.

This software converts a computer into a lie detector. But unlike a polygraph that requires the subject to be strapped in and wired up, Truster detects falsehoods from the sound of the spoken word using "voice stress recognition," and it is used by law enforcement agencies around the world.

As a person speaks, the vocal cords vibrate at a specific frequency. When a person lies, the amount of blood in the cords drops. This is because stress causes an involuntary interference with nerves, producing a distorted sound wave. Equipment designed to analyze the distortions can indicate when the truth is being bent.

But Truster's developer, Israel-based Makh-Shevet (www.trust-er.com), says the software also can pinpoint the cause of the stress, including lying, excitement, exaggeration or emotional conflict.

Installing Truster requires a system with a sound card and a microphone or line input. After installing the software, the subject speaks into the microphone.

Another way to connect Truster is to a telephone. Included in the box is a phone-adapter cable.

When Truster is running, you see a screen that displays running graphs. The graphs are easy to follow. But for immediate interpretation, you also see a row of truth bulbs.

During the test, the bulb colors are green for truth or red for inaccuracy. The level of inaccuracy is determined by the number of illuminated red bulbs: One is minor; five is probably a lie.

The other display makes it all a no-brainer. It spells it out for you. Labeled "System Decision," you'll see words that help you decide what's happening. It's important to read the manual to understand the implications of each.

One final caveat: There's a reason lie detector results cannot be used in court. No lie-detection system is 100 percent accurate.

Truster retails for $149 and requires Windows 95 or NT and a compatible sound card.

Information: UniPress Software, 1-800-222-0550 (www.unipress.com).

Pub Date: 5/25/98

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