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Identity verification using Amazon Rekognition

In-person user identity verification is slow to scale, costly, and high friction for users. Machine learning (ML) powered facial recognition technology can enable online user identity verification. Amazon Rekognition offers pre-trained facial recognition capabilities that you can quickly add to your user onboarding and authentication workflows to verify opted-in users’ identities online. No ML expertise…

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In-person user identity verification is slow to scale, costly, and high friction for users. Machine learning (ML) powered facial recognition technology can enable online user identity verification. Amazon Rekognition offers pre-trained facial recognition capabilities that you can quickly add to your user onboarding and authentication workflows to verify opted-in users’ identities online. No ML expertise is required. With Amazon Rekognition, you can onboard and authenticate users in seconds while detecting fraudulent or duplicate accounts. As a result, you can grow users faster, reduce fraud, and lower user verification costs.

In this post, we describe a typical identity verification workflow and show how to build an identity verification solution using various Amazon Rekognition APIs. We provide a complete sample implementation in our GitHub repository.

User registration workflow

The following figure shows a sample workflow of a new user registration. Typical steps in this process are:

  1. User captures selfie image and the image of a government-issued identity document.
  2. Quality check of the selfie image and optional liveness detection of the user face.
  3. Comparison of the selfie image with the identity document face image.
  4. Check of the selfie against a database of existing user faces.

You can customize the flow according to the business process. It often contains some or all of the steps presented in the preceding diagram. You can choose to run all the steps synchronously (wait for one step to complete before moving on to the next step). Alternately, you can run some of the steps highlighted in orange asynchronously (don’t wait for that step to complete) to speed up the user registration process and improve the customer experience. If the steps aren’t successful, you must roll back the user registration.

In addition to new user registration, another common flow is an existing or returning user login. In this flow, a check of the user face (selfie) is performed against a previously registered face. Typical steps in this process include user face capture (selfie), check of the selfie image quality, and search and compare of the selfie against the faces database. The following diagram shows a possible flow.

You can customize the steps of the process according to your business needs, and choose to include or exclude the liveness detection.

Solution overview

The following reference architecture shows how you can use Amazon Rekognition, along with other AWS services, to implement identity verification.

The architecture includes the following components:

  1. Applications invoke Amazon API Gateway to route requests to the correct AWS Lambda function depending on the user flow. There are four major actions in this solution: authenticate, register, register with ID card, and update.
  2. API Gateway uses a service integration to run the AWS Step Functions express state machine corresponding to the specific path called from API Gateway. Within each step, Lambda functions are responsible for triggering the correct set of calls to and from Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), along with the relevant Amazon Rekognition APIs.
  3. DynamoDB holds face IDs (face-id), S3 path URIs, and unique IDs (for example employee ID number) for each face-id. Amazon S3 stores all the face images.
  4. The final major component of the solution is Amazon Rekognition. Each flow (authenticate, register, register with ID card, and update) calls different Amazon Rekognition APIs depending on the task.

Before we deploy the solution, it’s important to know the following concepts and API descriptions:

  • Collections – Amazon Rekognition stores information about detected faces in server-side containers known as collections. You can use the facial information that’s stored in a collection to search for known faces in images, stored videos, and streaming videos. You can use collections in a variety of scenarios. For example, you might create a face collection to store scanned badge images by using the IndexFaces operation. When an employee enters the building, an image of the employee’s face is captured and sent to the SearchFacesByImage operation. If the face match produces a sufficiently high similarity score (say 99%), you can authenticate the employee.
  • DetectFaces API – This API detects faces within an image provided as input and returns information about faces. In a user registration workflow, this operation may help you screen images before moving to the next step. For example, you can check if a photo contains a face, if the person identified is in the right orientation, and if they’re not wearing any face blocker such as sunglasses or a cap.
  • IndexFaces API – This API detects faces in the input image and adds them to the specified collection. This operation is used to add a screened image to a collection for future queries.
  • SearchFacesByImage API – For a given input image, the API first detects the largest face in the image, and then searches the specified collection for matching faces. The operation compares the features of the input face with face features in the specified collection.
  • CompareFaces API – This API compares a face in the source input image with each of the 100 largest faces detected in the target input image. If the source image contains multiple faces, the service detects the largest face and compares it with each face detected in the target image. For our use case, we expect both the source and target image to contain a single face.
  • DeleteFaces API – This API deletes faces from a collection. You specify a collection ID and an array of face IDs to remove.

Prerequisites

Before you get started, complete the following prerequisites:

  1. Create an AWS account.
  2. Clone the sample repo on your local machine: git clone https://github.com/aws-samples/rekognition-identity-verification.git

We use the test client in this repository to test the various workflows.

  1. Install Python 3.6+ on your local machine.

Deploy the solution

Choose the appropriate AWS CloudFormation stack to provision the solution into your AWS account in your preferred Region:

N. Virginia (us-east-1)

Oregon (us-west-2)

As we discussed earlier, this solution uses API Gateway integrated with Step Functions and Amazon Rekognition APIs to run the identity verification workflows. To test the solution, follow the steps in the code repository to use the provided test client.

The following sections describe the various workflows implemented via Step Functions.

New user registration

The following image illustrates the Step Functions definition for new user registration. The steps are defined in the register_user.py file.

Three functions are called in this workflow: detect-faces, search-faces, and index-faces. The detect-faces function calls the Amazon Rekognition DetectFaces API to determine if a face is detected in an image and is usable. Some of the quality checks include determining that only the face is present in the image, ensuring the face isn’t obscured by sunglasses or a hat, and confirming that the face isn’t rotated by using the pose dimension. If the image passes the quality check, the search-faces function searches for an existing face match in the Amazon Rekognition collections by confirming the FaceMatchThreshold confidence score meets your threshold objective. For more information, refer to the section on using similarity thresholds to match faces. If the face image doesn’t exist in the collections, the index-faces function is called to index the face into the collection. The face image metadata is stored in the DynamoDB table and the face images are stored in an S3 bucket.

To register a new user, run the app.py script (test-client) by running the following code:

python3 src/test-client/app.py register -z Riv-Prod -r -u -p

If the new user registration succeeds, the face image attribute information is added in DynamoDB.

New user registration with ID card

The steps to register a new user with an ID card are similar to the steps for registering a new user. The following image illustrates the steps, which are defined in the register_idcard.py file.

The same three functions that we used to register a user (detect-faces, search-faces, and index-faces) are called in for this workflow. First, the customer captures an image of their ID and a live image of their face. The face image is checked to confirm it meets our defined quality standards using the DetectFaces API. If the image meets the quality standards, the live face image is compared to the face in the ID to determine if they’re a match. If the images don’t match, the user receives an error and the process ends. If the images match, we check if the face already exists in the Amazon Rekognition collections using the SearchFacesByImage API. The search results are compared to the user’s current face image. If the user already exists, the user isn’t registered. If the user doesn’t exist in the collections, the relevant properties are extracted from the ID card. You can extract key-value pairs from identity documents using the newly launched Amazon Textract AnalyzeID API. The extracted properties from the ID card are merged and the user’s face is indexed in the DynamoDB table. After the image is indexed, the new user ID registration process is complete.

Existing user authentication

The following image illustrates the workflow for authenticating an existing user. The steps are defined in the auth.py file.

This Step Function workflow calls three functions: detect-faces, compare-faces, and search-faces. After the detect-faces function verifies that the captured face image is valid, the compare-faces function checks the DynamoDB table for a face image that matches an existing user. If a match is found in DynamoDB, the user authenticates successfully. If a match isn’t found, the search-faces function is called to search for the face image in the collections. The user is verified and the authentication process completes if their face image exists in the collections. Otherwise, the user’s access is denied.

To test authenticating an existing user, run the app.py script (test-client) by running the following code::

python3 src/test-client/app.py auth -z Riv-Prod -r -u -p

Existing user login with a request for photo update

The following image illustrates the workflow to update an existing user’s photo. The steps are defined in the update.py file.

This workflow calls four functions: detect-faces, compare-faces, search-faces, and index-faces. The steps are similar to the steps in the existing user authentication workflow. After the user captures their face image and the image quality is checked, we check for a matching face image in DynamoDB using the compare-faces function. If a match for the user is found, their user profile is updated, their new face image is indexed by calling the index-faces function, and the update process completes. Alternatively, if a match isn’t found, the search-faces function is called to search for the face image in the Amazon Rekognition collections. If the face image is found in the collection, the user’s profile is updated and their new face image is indexed. The user’s access is denied if their image isn’t found in the collections.

To update an existing user’s photo, run the app.py script (test-client) by running the following code:

python3 src/test-client/app.py update -z Riv-Prod -r -u -p

Clean up

To prevent accruing additional charges in your AWS account, delete the resources you provisioned by navigating to the AWS CloudFormation console and deleting the Riv-Prod stack.

Deleting the stack doesn’t delete the S3 bucket you created. This bucket stores all the face images. If you choose to delete the S3 bucket, navigate to the Amazon S3 console, empty the bucket, and then confirm you want to permanently delete it.

Conclusion

Amazon Rekognition makes it easy to add image analysis to your identity verification applications using proven, highly scalable, deep learning technology that requires no ML expertise to use. Amazon Rekognition provides face detection and comparison capabilities. With a combination of the DetectFaces, CompareFaces, IndexFaces, and SearchFacesByImage APIs, you can implement the common flows around new user registration and existing user logins.

Amazon Rekognition collections provide a method to store information about detected faces in server-side containers. You can then use the facial information stored in a collection to search for known faces in images. When using collections, you don’t need to store original photos after you index faces in the collection. Amazon Rekognition collections don’t persist actual images. Instead, the underlying detection algorithm detects the faces in the input image, extracts facial features into a feature vector for each face, and stores it in the collection.

To start your journey towards identity verification, visit Identity Verification using Amazon Rekognition.

About the Authors

Nate Bachmeier is an AWS Senior Solutions Architect that nomadically explores New York, one cloud integration at a time. He specializes in migrating and modernizing applications. Besides this, Nate is a full-time student and has two kids.

Anthony Pasquariello is an Enterprise Solutions Architect based in New York City. He provides technical consultation to customers during their cloud journey, especially around security best practices. He has an MS and BS in electrical and computer engineering from Boston University. In his free time, he enjoys ramen, writing non-fiction, and philosophy.

Lauren Mullennex is a Solutions Architect based in Denver, CO. She works with customers to help them architect solutions on AWS. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and cooking Hawaiian cuisine.

Amit Gupta is a Senior AI Services Solutions Architect at AWS. He is passionate about enabling customers with well-architected machine learning solutions at scale.



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AWS Week in Review – May 16, 2022

This post is part of our Week in Review series. Check back each week for a quick roundup of interesting news and announcements from AWS! I had been on the road for the last five weeks and attended many of the AWS Summits in Europe. It was great to talk to so many of you…

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This post is part of our Week in Review series. Check back each week for a quick roundup of interesting news and announcements from AWS!

I had been on the road for the last five weeks and attended many of the AWS Summits in Europe. It was great to talk to so many of you in person. The Serverless Developer Advocates are going around many of the AWS Summits with the Serverlesspresso booth. If you attend an event that has the booth, say “Hi ” to my colleagues, and have a coffee while asking all your serverless questions. You can find all the upcoming AWS Summits in the events section at the end of this post.

Last week’s launches
Here are some launches that got my attention during the previous week.

AWS Step Functions announced a new console experience to debug your state machine executions – Now you can opt-in to the new console experience of Step Functions, which makes it easier to analyze, debug, and optimize Standard Workflows. The new page allows you to inspect executions using three different views: graph, table, and event view, and add many new features to enhance the navigation and analysis of the executions. To learn about all the features and how to use them, read Ben’s blog post.

Example on how the Graph View looks

Example on how the Graph View looks

AWS Lambda now supports Node.js 16.x runtime – Now you can start using the Node.js 16 runtime when you create a new function or update your existing functions to use it. You can also use the new container image base that supports this runtime. To learn more about this launch, check Dan’s blog post.

AWS Amplify announces its Android library designed for Kotlin – The Amplify Android library has been rewritten for Kotlin, and now it is available in preview. This new library provides better debugging capacities and visibility into underlying state management. And it is also using the new AWS SDK for Kotlin that was released last year in preview. Read the What’s New post for more information.

Three new APIs for batch data retrieval in AWS IoT SiteWise – With this new launch AWS IoT SiteWise now supports batch data retrieval from multiple asset properties. The new APIs allow you to retrieve current values, historical values, and aggregated values. Read the What’s New post to learn how you can start using the new APIs.

AWS Secrets Manager now publishes secret usage metrics to Amazon CloudWatch – This launch is very useful to see the number of secrets in your account and set alarms for any unexpected increase or decrease in the number of secrets. Read the documentation on Monitoring Secrets Manager with Amazon CloudWatch for more information.

For a full list of AWS announcements, be sure to keep an eye on the What’s New at AWS page.

Other AWS News
Some other launches and news that you may have missed:

IBM signed a deal with AWS to offer its software portfolio as a service on AWS. This allows customers using AWS to access IBM software for automation, data and artificial intelligence, and security that is built on Red Hat OpenShift Service on AWS.

Podcast Charlas Técnicas de AWS – If you understand Spanish, this podcast is for you. Podcast Charlas Técnicas is one of the official AWS podcasts in Spanish. This week’s episode introduces you to Amazon DynamoDB and shares stories on how different customers use this database service. You can listen to all the episodes directly from your favorite podcast app or the podcast web page.

AWS Open Source News and Updates – Ricardo Sueiras, my colleague from the AWS Developer Relation team, runs this newsletter. It brings you all the latest open-source projects, posts, and more. Read edition #112 here.

Upcoming AWS Events
It’s AWS Summits season and here are some virtual and in-person events that might be close to you:

You can register for re:MARS to get fresh ideas on topics such as machine learning, automation, robotics, and space. The conference will be in person in Las Vegas, June 21–24.

That’s all for this week. Check back next Monday for another Week in Review!

— Marcia



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Personalize your machine translation results by using fuzzy matching with Amazon Translate

A person’s vernacular is part of the characteristics that make them unique. There are often countless different ways to express one specific idea. When a firm communicates with their customers, it’s critical that the message is delivered in a way that best represents the information they’re trying to convey. This becomes even more important when…

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A person’s vernacular is part of the characteristics that make them unique. There are often countless different ways to express one specific idea. When a firm communicates with their customers, it’s critical that the message is delivered in a way that best represents the information they’re trying to convey. This becomes even more important when it comes to professional language translation. Customers of translation systems and services expect accurate and highly customized outputs. To achieve this, they often reuse previous translation outputs—called translation memory (TM)—and compare them to new input text. In computer-assisted translation, this technique is known as fuzzy matching. The primary function of fuzzy matching is to assist the translator by speeding up the translation process. When an exact match can’t be found in the TM database for the text being translated, translation management systems (TMSs) often have the option to search for a match that is less than exact. Potential matches are provided to the translator as additional input for final translation. Translators who enhance their workflow with machine translation capabilities such as Amazon Translate often expect fuzzy matching data to be used as part of the automated translation solution.

In this post, you learn how to customize output from Amazon Translate according to translation memory fuzzy match quality scores.

Translation Quality Match

The XML Localization Interchange File Format (XLIFF) standard is often used as a data exchange format between TMSs and Amazon Translate. XLIFF files produced by TMSs include source and target text data along with match quality scores based on the available TM. These scores—usually expressed as a percentage—indicate how close the translation memory is to the text being translated.

Some customers with very strict requirements only want machine translation to be used when match quality scores are below a certain threshold. Beyond this threshold, they expect their own translation memory to take precedence. Translators often need to apply these preferences manually either within their TMS or by altering the text data. This flow is illustrated in the following diagram. The machine translation system processes the translation data—text and fuzzy match scores— which is then reviewed and manually edited by translators, based on their desired quality thresholds. Applying thresholds as part of the machine translation step allows you to remove these manual steps, which improves efficiency and optimizes cost.

Machine Translation Review Flow

Figure 1: Machine Translation Review Flow

The solution presented in this post allows you to enforce rules based on match quality score thresholds to drive whether a given input text should be machine translated by Amazon Translate or not. When not machine translated, the resulting text is left to the discretion of the translators reviewing the final output.

Solution Architecture

The solution architecture illustrated in Figure 2 leverages the following services:

  • Amazon Simple Storage Service – Amazon S3 buckets contain the following content:
    • Fuzzy match threshold configuration files
    • Source text to be translated
    • Amazon Translate input and output data locations
  • AWS Systems Manager – We use Parameter Store parameters to store match quality threshold configuration values
  • AWS Lambda – We use two Lambda functions:
    • One function preprocesses the quality match threshold configuration files and persists the data into Parameter Store
    • One function automatically creates the asynchronous translation jobs
  • Amazon Simple Queue Service – An Amazon SQS queue triggers the translation flow as a result of new files coming into the source bucket

Solution Architecture Diagram

Figure 2: Solution Architecture

You first set up quality thresholds for your translation jobs by editing a configuration file and uploading it into the fuzzy match threshold configuration S3 bucket. The following is a sample configuration in CSV format. We chose CSV for simplicity, although you can use any format. Each line represents a threshold to be applied to either a specific translation job or as a default value to any job.

default, 75 SourceMT-Test, 80

The specifications of the configuration file are as follows:

  • Column 1 should be populated with the name of the XLIFF file—without extension—provided to the Amazon Translate job as input data.
  • Column 2 should be populated with the quality match percentage threshold. For any score below this value, machine translation is used.
  • For all XLIFF files whose name doesn’t match any name listed in the configuration file, the default threshold is used—the line with the keyword default set in Column 1.

Auto-generated parameter in Systems Manager Parameter Store

Figure 3: Auto-generated parameter in Systems Manager Parameter Store

When a new file is uploaded, Amazon S3 triggers the Lambda function in charge of processing the parameters. This function reads and stores the threshold parameters into Parameter Store for future usage. Using Parameter Store avoids performing redundant Amazon S3 GET requests each time a new translation job is initiated. The sample configuration file produces the parameter tags shown in the following screenshot.

The job initialization Lambda function uses these parameters to preprocess the data prior to invoking Amazon Translate. We use an English-to-Spanish translation XLIFF input file, as shown in the following code. It contains the initial text to be translated, broken down into what is referred to as segments, represented in the source tags.

Consent Form CONSENT FORM FORMULARIO DE CONSENTIMIENTO Screening Visit: Screening Visit Selección

The source text has been pre-matched with the translation memory beforehand. The data contains potential translation alternatives—represented as tags—alongside a match quality attribute, expressed as a percentage. The business rule is as follows:

  • Segments received with alternative translations and a match quality below the threshold are untouched or empty. This signals to Amazon Translate that they must be translated.
  • Segments received with alternative translations with a match quality above the threshold are pre-populated with the suggested target text. Amazon Translate skips those segments.

Let’s assume the quality match threshold configured for this job is 80%. The first segment with 99% match quality isn’t machine translated, whereas the second segment is, because its match quality is below the defined threshold. In this configuration, Amazon Translate produces the following output:

Consent Form FORMULARIO DE CONSENTIMIENTO CONSENT FORM FORMULARIO DE CONSENTIMIENTO Screening Visit: Visita de selección Screening Visit Selección

In the second segment, Amazon Translate overwrites the target text initially suggested (Selección) with a higher quality translation: Visita de selección.

One possible extension to this use case could be to reuse the translated output and create our own translation memory. Amazon Translate supports customization of machine translation using translation memory thanks to the parallel data feature. Text segments previously machine translated due to their initial low-quality score could then be reused in new translation projects.

In the following sections, we walk you through the process of deploying and testing this solution. You use AWS CloudFormation scripts and data samples to launch an asynchronous translation job personalized with a configurable quality match threshold.

Prerequisites

For this walkthrough, you must have an AWS account. If you don’t have an account yet, you can create and activate one.

Launch AWS CloudFormation stack

  1. Choose Launch Stack:
  2. For Stack name, enter a name.
  3. For ConfigBucketName, enter the S3 bucket containing the threshold configuration files.
  4. For ParameterStoreRoot, enter the root path of the parameters created by the parameters processing Lambda function.
  5. For QueueName, enter the SQS queue that you create to post new file notifications from the source bucket to the job initialization Lambda function. This is the function that reads the configuration file.
  6. For SourceBucketName, enter the S3 bucket containing the XLIFF files to be translated. If you prefer to use a preexisting bucket, you need to change the value of the CreateSourceBucket parameter to No.
  7. For WorkingBucketName, enter the S3 bucket Amazon Translate uses for input and output data.
  8. Choose Next.

    Figure 4: CloudFormation stack details

  9. Optionally on the Stack Options page, add key names and values for the tags you may want to assign to the resources about to be created.
  10. Choose Next.
  11. On the Review page, select I acknowledge that this template might cause AWS CloudFormation to create IAM resources.
  12. Review the other settings, then choose Create stack.

AWS CloudFormation takes several minutes to create the resources on your behalf. You can watch the progress on the Events tab on the AWS CloudFormation console. When the stack has been created, you can see a CREATE_COMPLETE message in the Status column on the Overview tab.

Test the solution

Let’s go through a simple example.

  1. Download the following sample data.
  2. Unzip the content.

There should be two files: an .xlf file in XLIFF format, and a threshold configuration file with .cfg as the extension. The following is an excerpt of the XLIFF file.

English to French sample file extract

Figure 5: English to French sample file extract

  1. On the Amazon S3 console, upload the quality threshold configuration file into the configuration bucket you specified earlier.

The value set for test_En_to_Fr is 75%. You should be able to see the parameters on the Systems Manager console in the Parameter Store section.

  1. Still on the Amazon S3 console, upload the .xlf file into the S3 bucket you configured as source. Make sure the file is under a folder named translate (for example, /translate/test_En_to_Fr.xlf).

This starts the translation flow.

  1. Open the Amazon Translate console.

A new job should appear with a status of In Progress.

Auto-generated parameter in Systems Manager Parameter Store

Figure 6: In progress translation jobs on Amazon Translate console

  1. Once the job is complete, click into the job’s link and consult the output. All segments should have been translated.

All segments should have been translated. In the translated XLIFF file, look for segments with additional attributes named lscustom:match-quality, as shown in the following screenshot. These custom attributes identify segments where suggested translation was retained based on score.

Custom attributes identifying segments where suggested translation was retained based on score

Figure 7: Custom attributes identifying segments where suggested translation was retained based on score

These were derived from the translation memory according to the quality threshold. All other segments were machine translated.

You have now deployed and tested an automated asynchronous translation job assistant that enforces configurable translation memory match quality thresholds. Great job!

Cleanup

If you deployed the solution into your account, don’t forget to delete the CloudFormation stack to avoid any unexpected cost. You need to empty the S3 buckets manually beforehand.

Conclusion

In this post, you learned how to customize your Amazon Translate translation jobs based on standard XLIFF fuzzy matching quality metrics. With this solution, you can greatly reduce the manual labor involved in reviewing machine translated text while also optimizing your usage of Amazon Translate. You can also extend the solution with data ingestion automation and workflow orchestration capabilities, as described in Speed Up Translation Jobs with a Fully Automated Translation System Assistant.

About the Authors

Narcisse Zekpa is a Solutions Architect based in Boston. He helps customers in the Northeast U.S. accelerate their adoption of the AWS Cloud, by providing architectural guidelines, design innovative, and scalable solutions. When Narcisse is not building, he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, cooking, and playing basketball.

Dimitri Restaino is a Solutions Architect at AWS, based out of Brooklyn, New York. He works primarily with Healthcare and Financial Services companies in the North East, helping to design innovative and creative solutions to best serve their customers. Coming from a software development background, he is excited by the new possibilities that serverless technology can bring to the world. Outside of work, he loves to hike and explore the NYC food scene.



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Enhance the caller experience with hints in Amazon Lex

We understand speech input better if we have some background on the topic of conversation. Consider a customer service agent at an auto parts wholesaler helping with orders. If the agent knows that the customer is looking for tires, they’re more likely to recognize responses (for example, “Michelin”) on the phone. Agents often pick up…

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We understand speech input better if we have some background on the topic of conversation. Consider a customer service agent at an auto parts wholesaler helping with orders. If the agent knows that the customer is looking for tires, they’re more likely to recognize responses (for example, “Michelin”) on the phone. Agents often pick up such clues or hints based on their domain knowledge and access to business intelligence dashboards. Amazon Lex now supports a hints capability to enhance the recognition of relevant phrases in a conversation. You can programmatically provide phrases as hints during a live interaction to influence the transcription of spoken input. Better recognition drives efficient conversations, reduces agent handling time, and ultimately increases customer satisfaction.

In this post, we review the runtime hints capability and use it to implement verification of callers based on their mother’s maiden name.

Overview of the runtime hints capability

You can provide a list of phrases or words to help your bot with the transcription of speech input. You can use these hints with built-in slot types such as first and last names, street names, city, state, and country. You can also configure these for your custom slot types.

You can use the capability to transcribe names that may be difficult to pronounce or understand. For example, in the following sample conversation, we use it to transcribe the name “Loreck.”

Conversation 1

IVR: Welcome to ACME bank. How can I help you today?

Caller: I want to check my account balance.

IVR: Sure. Which account should I pull up?

Caller: Checking

IVR: What is the account number?

Caller: 1111 2222 3333 4444

IVR: For verification purposes, what is your mother’s maiden name?

Caller: Loreck

IVR: Thank you. The balance on your checking account is 123 dollars.

Words provided as hints are preferred over other similar words. For example, in the second sample conversation, the runtime hint (“Smythe”) is selected over a more common transcription (“Smith”).

Conversation 2

IVR: Welcome to ACME bank. How can I help you today?

Caller: I want to check my account balance.

IVR: Sure. Which account should I pull up?

Caller: Checking

IVR: What is the account number?

Caller: 5555 6666 7777 8888

IVR: For verification purposes, what is your mother’s maiden name?

Caller: Smythe

IVR: Thank you. The balance on your checking account is 456 dollars.

If the name doesn’t match the runtime hint, you can fail the verification and route the call to an agent.

Conversation 3

IVR: Welcome to ACME bank. How can I help you today?

Caller: I want to check my account balance.

IVR: Sure. Which account should I pull up?

Caller: Savings

IVR: What is the account number?

Caller: 5555 6666 7777 8888

IVR: For verification purposes, what is your mother’s maiden name?

Caller: Jane

IVR: There is an issue with your account. For support, you will be forwarded to an agent.

Solution overview

Let’s review the overall architecture for the solution (see the following diagram):

  • We use an Amazon Lex bot integrated with an Amazon Connect contact flow to deliver the conversational experience.
  • We use a dialog codehook in the Amazon Lex bot to invoke an AWS Lambda function that provides the runtime hint at the previous turn of the conversation.
  • For the purposes of this post, the mother’s maiden name data used for authentication is stored in an Amazon DynamoDB table.
  • After the caller is authenticated, the control is passed to the bot to perform transactions (for example, check balance)

In addition to the Lambda function, you can also send runtime hints to Amazon Lex V2 using the PutSession, RecognizeText, RecognizeUtterance, or StartConversation operations. The runtime hints can be set at any point in the conversation and are persisted at every turn until cleared.

Deploy the sample Amazon Lex bot

To create the sample bot and configure the runtime phrase hints, perform the following steps. This creates an Amazon Lex bot called BankingBot, and one slot type (accountNumber).

  1. Download the Amazon Lex bot.
  2. On the Amazon Lex console, choose Actions, Import.
  3. Choose the file BankingBot.zip that you downloaded, and choose Import.
  4. Choose the bot BankingBot on the Amazon Lex console.
  5. Choose the language English (GB).
  6. Choose Build.
  7. Download the supporting Lambda code.
  8. On the Lambda console, create a new function and select Author from scratch.
  9. For Function name, enter BankingBotEnglish.
  10. For Runtime, choose Python 3.8.
  11. Choose Create function.
  12. In the Code source section, open lambda_function.py and delete the existing code.
  13. Download the function code and open it in a text editor.
  14. Copy the code and enter it into the empty function code field.
  15. Choose deploy.
  16. On the Amazon Lex console, select the bot BankingBot.
  17. Choose Deployment and then Aliases, then choose the alias TestBotAlias.
  18. On the Aliases page, choose Languages and choose English (GB).
  19. For Source, select the bot BankingBotEnglish.
  20. For Lambda version or alias, enter $LATEST.
  21. On the DynamoDB console, choose Create table.
  22. Provide the name as customerDatabase.
  23. Provide the partition key as accountNumber.
  24. Add an item with accountNumber: “1111222233334444” and mothersMaidenName “Loreck”.
  25. Add item with accountNumber: “5555666677778888” and mothersMaidenName “Smythe”.
  26. Make sure the Lambda function has permissions to read from the DynamoDB table customerDatabase.
  27. On the Amazon Connect console, choose Contact flows.
  28. In the Amazon Lex section, select your Amazon Lex bot and make it available for use in the Amazon Connect contact flow.
  29. Download the contact flow to integrate with the Amazon Lex bot.
  30. Choose the contact flow to load it into the application.
  31. Make sure the right bot is configured in the “Get Customer Input” block.
  32. Choose a queue in the “Set working queue” block.
  33. Add a phone number to the contact flow.
  34. Test the IVR flow by calling in to the phone number.

Test the solution

You can now call in to the Amazon Connect phone number and interact with the bot.

Conclusion

Runtime hints allow you to influence the transcription of words or phrases dynamically in the conversation. You can use business logic to identify the hints as the conversation evolves. Better recognition of the user input allows you to deliver an enhanced experience. You can configure runtime hints via the Lex V2 SDK. The capability is available in all AWS Regions where Amazon Lex operates in the English (Australia), English (UK), and English (US) locales.

To learn more, refer to runtime hints.

About the Authors

Kai Loreck is a professional services Amazon Connect consultant. He works on designing and implementing scalable customer experience solutions. In his spare time, he can be found playing sports, snowboarding, or hiking in the mountains.

Anubhav Mishra is a Product Manager with AWS. He spends his time understanding customers and designing product experiences to address their business challenges.

Sravan Bodapati is an Applied Science Manager at AWS Lex. He focuses on building cutting edge Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning solutions for AWS customers in ASR and NLP space. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, learning economics, watching TV shows and spending time with his family.



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