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Tech Industry

Lie detector software to ship

A software product that started out as a way to trip up terrorists may wind up tipping off your spouse that you're not actually working late at the office.

A software product that started out as a way to trip up terrorists may wind up tipping off your spouse that you're not actually planning to work late at the office.

Dubbed Truster, the product is a lie-detection software product that analyzes voice on phone or tape. It originated with military security applications in mind, but Truster maker Mahk-Shevet quickly saw that the digital cousin of Wonder Woman's lasso could have compelling personal and business uses as well.

"Business people said they could have a much better business conversation with this," said Mahk-Shevet CEO Tamir Segal. "From the consumer's point of view, if I am calling around and people are telling me that they have all the best products and all the best prices, I want to know which is which."

But whether you are running Truster on your boss or your best friend, you might not want to give it your complete trust. While Mahk-Shevet boasts that Truster has an 85 percent accuracy rate, comparable to that of the traditional polygraph, a NEWS.COM trial of the product provided less trustworthy results.

Whatever Truster's accuracy, it is certain to be controversial. Segal acknowledges that the software is prone to what he calls "wrong uses," such as checking up on significant others for adultery or hauling Truster data into court. "But we expect people to use it wisely and understand its limitations," he said. "It's for your eyes only, not for public information."

Truster, however, already has had some very public exposure, analyzing on television news the statements of Middle-Eastern politicians including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Netanyahu, claiming that his administration would take full responsibility after the attempted assassination of a leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, was found to be exaggerating. And when he promised a full and thorough investigation of Israel's role in the plot, Truster said the prime minister was telling a whopper.

Truster had a better opinion of Arafat, whose vow to reject peace unless his conditions were met was found to be truthful.

Segal expressed high hopes for his product.

"Maybe it will achieve a much better world out there, where people are not trying to bluff all the time," he said.

Truster is set to launch in Israel December 5th and in the U.S. in the first quarter next year. Makh-Shevet is shopping the software around to U.S. companies this week, and reports interest from speech recognition enthusiast Microsoft.