Skip to content
Tony Allen

Tony Allen


School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)
Computing and Technology


Dr Tony Allen is a Reader in Speech-enabled Systems and a member of the Computational Intelligence and Applications Research Group (CIA).

Career overview

  • Voicekey Ltd: Founder of Voicekey Ltd and stated inventor on the Biometric Identity Management patent (PCT/GB2009/002769) that underlies the Voicekey product. Recipient of seed venture capital funding (Lachesis), Technology Strategy Board grants, and SBRi contracts to develop the core software applications that are the foundation for the Voicekey business (2010 – present)
  • Nottingham Trent University: Principal Lecturer & Reader in Speech-Enabled Systems at Nottingham Trent University, with an established international reputation for research excellence in the application of neural networks for speaker verification and speech-enabled systems technologies (1998 – present)
  • Centre for Innovation & Technology Exploitation: Director of an acknowledged centre of excellence technology transfer unit that successfully worked with over 300 small to medium enterprises. Responsible for the commercialisation of several projects including mobile healthcare, wireless presence assistive technology, and speech-enabled systems (2007 -2012)
  • Peoples College of FE: Lecturer in Telecommunications and Computer Systems Engineering (1987 – 1998)
  • British Telecommunications: Technical Officer responsible for maintenance of System X Exchange equipment (1970 - 1987)

Research areas

Dr Allen is a member of the Computational Intelligence and Applications Research Group (CIA)

Areas of research interest include biometric identity management and speech-enabled mobile computing:

  • Biometric Identity Management: A novel voice verification system is being developed that uses neural network algorithms to perform on-device speaker verification. AI techniques for identifying word / phoneme boundaries, as well as addressing the effect of noise and cross-channel verification are being investigated.
  • Speech-enabled Mobile Computing: A speech-enabled mobile computing system is being developed that uses echo state neural networks and hidden Markov models to perform on-device speech recognition. Novel voice activity detection algorithms are being investigated as a means of generating reliable recognition rates under the constraints of performing speech recognition on a mobile phone.

Opportunities to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil / PhD exist in the School of Science and Technology, and further information may be obtained from the NTU Graduate School.

External activity

  • Dr Allen is the founder, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Technical Director of the NTU spin-out company Voicekey Ltd. Leveraging over £700k of venture capital, Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and NTech/EMDA/EPS funding, this company currently employs four people and is commercially exploiting a patented local encoded voice biometric authentication system.
  • Selected for UK Growth Accelerator program – TSB Sponsored (06/2013)
  • UK Security cleared – MoD sponsored (08/2012)
  • Invited speaker:
    * BT York Design Validation Centre webinar series (02/2014)
    * University of Nottingham Innovation fellowship (09/2013)
    * TSB/Cabinet Office ID Assurance event (10/2011)
    * Robert Gordon University research seminar: (09/2009)
    * University of Nottingham Innovation fellowship course (06/2009)
  • Principal inventor of Biometric Identity Verification Patent (PCT/GB2009/002769) (filed Nov 2008)
  • External examiner for: One PhD (University of Liverpool), one MPhil (City University) and one MRes (University of Kent)
  • Internal NTU examiner for seven PhDs and two MPhils
  • Paper reviewer for:
    * Expert Systems – International Journal of Knowledge Engineering and Neural Networks
    * IJDAR – International Journal on Document Analysis and Recognition
  • Program committee member for BCS SGAI International Conference series on Innovative Techniques and Applications in Artificial Intelligence (2005-present)

Sponsors and collaborators

Recent research funding has included:

  • SBRi m-commerce phase 2 contract. Technology Strategy Board (2014-15), £96,000
  • Voicekey Ltd Commercial Growth Grant. Nottingham Technology Grant Fund (2013-15), £60,000
  • SBRi m-commerce phase 1 contract. Technology Strategy Board (2013), £56,000
  • Bring Your Own Device contract. UK Ministry of Defence (2013), £49,000
  • Digital trust for high-risk transactions. Technology Strategy Board (2011), £96,352
  • Trusted Service – mobile voice verification. Technology Strategy Board (2010–11), £45,000
  • Voicekey spin-out company creation. Lachesis Venture Capital Group (2009-11), £270,000
  • Centre for Innovation and Technology Exploitation. European Regional Development Fund (2009-11), £236,000
  • Centre for Innovation and Technology Exploitation. European Regional Development Fund (2007–09), £213,000


DACH1: Its role as a classifier of long-term good prognosis in luminal breast cancer. Powe DG, Dhondalay GKR, Lemetre C, Allen T, Habashy HO, et al., PLoS ONE, 2014, 9 (1), e84428

Speaker verification using heterogeneous neural network architecture with linear correlation speech activity detection. Tashan T, Allen T and Nolle L, Expert Systems, 2014, 31 (5), 437-447

Echo State Networks for Arabic phoneme classification and recognition. Hmad N and Allen T, The XXXIV. International Conference on Machine Learning and Pattern Recognition. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology. London, UK, 2013

Biologically inspired speaker verification using Spiking Self-Organising Map. Tashan T, Allen T et al., in (eds) M Bramer and M Petridis, Springer London, 2012, 5-17

Silog: Speech input logon. Grau S, Allen T, Sherkat N, Knowledge-Based Systems, 2009, 22, 535-539

See all of Tony Allen's publications...