Lie detector for Skype watches over voice communications

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

Chicago (IL) - Software company Kishkish offers a small add-on for the Skype instant messenger that promises users who are paranoid about the trustworthiness of the people they are talking to. The "Lie Detector" analyzes stress levels in voices and promises to expose, if a conversation partner is honest - or not.

Skype is more than just a tool that enables chat and VoIP communications over the Internet. With the introduction of version 3.0, the software evolves more and more into a social networking software: There are currently three dozen add-ons that, for example, allow people to collaborate via screensharing or spend some time together in online games.

One of the more unusual add-ons is Kishkish's Lie Detector, which apparently has been downloaded almost 340,000 times at the time of this writing. The developer claims that the application can analyze audio streams and illustrates the stress levels of the other person during the conversation. The conclusion is that higher stress levels point to potential lies.

So, does the software work?

It's always useful to find out whether your co-workers are trustworthy or not, so we put the Lie Detector to work amongst ourselves. We quickly found out that the software is really more of a toy with a functionality that is rather limited. First, of course, you can't run the lie detector without the person no knowing about. You will always have to agree to such a conversation - and can decline it, if you consider it inappropriate.

But even if you agree to a monitored call, the Lie Detector may not expose what is truth and what is not. It may be that we are just really talented liars here at TG Daily, but the software really did not reveal any lie we planted in the middle of conversations, even when we tried to artificially increase our stress levels. While we can't say what makes the software recognize stress levels, we noticed that changes in volume and talking speed had a significant impact on the Lie Detector. Background sounds, such as keyboard typing, also appeared to increase the displayed stress level substantially.

It's rather unlikely that the software in its current state will ever make it into serious conversations. It's really much more a toy and not really an especially good one at this time. However, if you do take it seriously and use it in private conversations, don't be surprised if you end in a surprise paternity test on the Maury show.