Funded by U.S. homeland security, the technology known as the Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time, or AVATAR, started about six years ago. It is a noninvasive interactive screening kiosk that helps detect deceit and discrepancies in human behavior through artificial intelligence in real-time and is designed to help manage and secure the nations borders but might also be used to provide inceptive screening for refugees and asylum victims and make the process quicker.
Tested originally at the U.S. Mexican, it had expanded further to the European Union agency for border protection along with NCBSI, and Frontex during research from 2010 to 2013 conducted at four workshops and was even put in a special on Discovery Channel Canada.
“The technology has much broader applications potentially,” said Aaron Elkins on of the developers of the system and assistant professor at the San Diego State University director of its Artificial Intelligence lab. Additionally, according to Jeff Daniels from CNBC, one researcher says that it has a success rate for deception detection of up to 80 percent which is better than human agents, “We’re always consistently above human accuracy” said Elkins. He also touched on how although AVATAR is not a commercial product, it could still be used in the future in human resources for screenings.
Humans can become tired or distracted whereas the AVATAR conducts each interview with circumspection and acuity along with no bias. An operator using the device can change settings between male or female and from stern to friendly and change language settings so that the AVATAR can scan their identification and asked a few questions while recording the persons score carefully. It can detect psychophysiological and behavioral indications that are not perceptible to the human sense such as body language, vocal, cardiorespiratory and eye behavior that can be used to adjudicate whether a person is a potential risk or credible. Its high-resolution camera captures facial expressions while the eye trackers seek any change in pupil dilation and uses high frequency microphones. The fusion of these various technologies gives higher probability of detecting fraudulent behavior, that way if a person’s score is of an at-risk level, a field agent can be notified to do a second additional screening to ensure safety.