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The father of the girl caught up in a Sydney bomb scare is the chief executive of a company that sells software to law enforcement that allows investigators to build a detailed profile of a person just by analysing their keystrokes.

The “data stream profiling” software can determine the country of origin of a person, their education, gender, whether they are left or right handed, their native language, if they’re a touch typist and their year of birth just by monitoring what they type, according to a brochure listed on its website.

Another piece of software the company markets, the “text attribution tool”, offers “psychometric analysis” of text in addition to data stream profiling, allowing investigators to determine how much extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism and openness a person displays in their writing, says another brochure.

Text attribution tool.A text attribution tool Appen sells.

Wealthy businessman and chief executive of Appen, William Pulver, 53, is the father of Madeleine Pulver, who had a suspected bomb attached to her neck in Mosman, last night. The device was later revealed not to be a bomb.

Asked at a press conference this afernoon if it was believed the device was strapped to Madeleine in an extortion attempt on the father’s business, a police spokesman said: “I’m not going to comment at all on the motivation but certainly there’s no suggestion that that is the case.”

Appen also markets voice recognition software, which gaming website Kotatku has said was used in Australian trials with voice control on the motion-sensing Kinect gaming controller for the Xbox.

Madeleine's father, William Pulver, waits at the scene last night with shocked family and friends.Madeleine’s father, William Pulver, waits at the scene last night with shocked family and friends. Photo: Brendan Esposito

A brochure on Appen’s site states that the “data stream profiling” tool functions by monitoring a computer terminal and carrying out real-time matching against stored models of known persons.

The brochure says it can be used for fraud prevention and child protection purposes.

“By acquiring data from the computer of a known person-of-interest (a registered sex offender, for example), it is possible to collect data and build a model of his typing behaviour.”

A company could also use the software to protect its chief financial officer’s computer from unauthorised access, it says.

“… When a chief financial officer logs on to a terminal, the tool can verify that it is only being used by that individual.”

The text attribution tool was “developed to meet the requirements of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies”, a company brochure states.

“By compiling a focused set of documents for investigation, the text attribution tool greatly enhances investigator efficiency and effectiveness – generating investigative leads through demographic and psychometric analysis, and advanced profiling techniques.”

Appen co-founder and director of Appen Butler Hill, Julie Vonwiller, declined to comment on the Sydney bomb hoax incident and said the company had no immediate plans to release a statement.

“We’re leaving everything as it is at the moment,” Dr Vonwiller said.

Dr Vonwiller, a specialist in speech science and technology, and her husband Chris started the business in the bedroom of their upper north shore home in 1996.

Both serve as non-executive directors on the board of Appen Butler Hill.

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