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The Future of Automotive Biometrics

HomeTechnologyThe Future of Automotive Biometrics

The field of biometrics is huge, and it’s getting bigger. The potential is growing exponentially, with a projected value of approximately $69 billion by 2025.

Biometrics can best be explained by describing it as a personal identity verification system, that uses your unique physical and behavioral characteristics (fingerprints, speech, eyes, gait, hand geometry, handwriting, or facial recognition) to verify your identity.

This kind of technology has not been used in many businesses for very long, but it has been around for quite a while, especially for use in operations where you may find a higher level of security such as military operations or research and development departments.

Likely, you are already using biometrics, whether you realize it or not: every time your phone unlocks because it recognizes your face or you use your fingerprint to unlock it, every time a smart speaker recognizes your voice specifically, every time you are given security clearance to enter a building because your face has been recognized.

Anyone who has been following automotive biometrics knows that we have already come a long way. We are already capable of doing things we only could have dreamed of twenty or even ten years ago.

We’ve Come a Long Way

In the last decade, there have been serious advancements in biometrics including behavioral biometrics, machine learning, and also face recognition. While most of these advancements can be seen in more obvious ways when thinking about smartphones and smart speakers, for example, this kind of technology is also starting to make its way into the automotive space.

When it comes to the world of automotive biometrics, there are several things we are already starting to take for granted.

Unlock With Your Fingerprint

Fingerprint recognition is the oldest form of biometrics used. It’s not surprising, then, that this has really been the first type of automotive biometrics we have seen used.

In 2019, Hyundai became the first auto manufacturer to introduce the world’s first smart fingerprint technology that allowed drivers to not only unlock their vehicles with their fingerprints but also start the engine.

This was made possible by the driver placing their finger on the sensor located on the door handle. The fingerprint information is then identified and delivered to the controller within the vehicle.

In 2022, Kia added this technology to the 2022 Kia K9, which also allows fingerprint authorization to select between multiple profiles that can alter side mirror positions, climate control settings, and seat positions.

Fingerprint biometrics will also be utilized to authenticate payments without scanning a payment card. Needless to say, there is still a lot of room for this technology to grow, but it’s already off to a great start.

Start Your Car With Your Iris

The supplier Osram Opto Semiconductors has created an iris scanner for automobiles. A human iris, like a fingerprint, has its own set of unique features. The system will scan the iris utilizing an invisible infrared light, and a camera will capture an image of the structure of the iris. The image will be analyzed and then the vehicle’s immobilizer will be deactivated so the car can be started.

Another way to use biometrics to start the car would be to use facial recognition. This would use an infrared light source to illuminate the whole face, and then the camera will record an image to analyze. It will analyze things like distance between the eyes, nose shape and length, mouth shape and size, and other facial features. If the data matches that of your face, it will allow the car to start.

Who knows where this could take us in the future? It’s fun to imagine a world where drivers can drive simply with a movement of their eyes. The possibilities are truly endless.

The Advantages of Automotive Biometrics

There are a lot of advantages associated with this new technology. Let’s take a look at a couple of them.

Convenience

This is the most obvious advantage of automotive biometrics. How many times have you been late for something because you spent 20 minutes looking for your car keys? And how great would it be for your car to just automatically adjust your seat, mirrors, air conditioning, and music to the exact way you like it?

It also requires hardly any time to perform facial recognition or fingerprint recognition. Also, it’s highly accurate even when there are small variations.

Safety

It’s a lot harder for thieves to break into cars with biometric technology, which makes it a much more secure option. Also, technology is in development so that the car will be able to identify the mental state and sleepiness of the driver. It’s also in the works that a vehicle will be able to detect when a driver has had too much alcohol to drive safely, which would no doubt prevent countless drunk driving accidents on the roads every year.

Biometrics has also led to major advancements in safety in the manufacturing industry. Biometrics has helped employees to restrict access and identification in the workplace, use voice recognition technology to have more freedom and flexibility to use machines, and implement sensory patches to improve wellbeing.

Where Will the Future Take Us?

The first thing we can expect to see in terms of automotive biometrics is more of the same. We can expect to see more fingerprint recognition, more retina scanning, and more facial recognition. While this technology is already available, it isn’t yet widespread.

Additional Communication and Artificial Intelligence

Voice recognition and artificial intelligence aren’t exactly new. How long have you been able to ask your smart speaker about the weather or to play your favorite Jonny Cash tune? However, we can expect this technology to become more advanced.

Right now, you can ask your car to make a phone call to a friend or pull up directions using your voice or place an order at that restaurant. As the technology grows, drivers may be able to enjoy more services.

It’s not hard to let your imagination run wild when it comes to the world of artificial intelligence. Will we live in a world where your vehicle can entertain your kids with a story? Will your car be able to read your mind and know exactly which true crime podcast you want to listen to?

Some of the fun things we can already do with smart speakers and smart assistants like asking them to tell us jokes or sing us songs can easily give you a good idea of how artificial intelligence might progress in the future. And you can be sure that if an object can be connected to the internet — like a car certainly can — you can expect it to follow the same trajectory.

Assessing the Driver’s State

Just as we discussed above how technology is being developed to detect the sleepiness of a driver or whether or not they have had too much to drink, there may also be ways to detect, through biometric seat technology, the driver’s stress and anxiety levels. The vehicle may be able to contribute to safer driving by suggesting the driver take a break.

In the future, there may also be heart rate monitors, meaning your car would be aware if you suffered a heart attack while driving, and it could essentially perform life-saving activities.

Quicker Rentals

Customers would no longer have to wait in long lines inside car rental agencies for a pair of car keys. If rental cars could simply be accessed by biometrics, a customer could be given access remotely, and access could be taken away at the right time as well (also remotely).

Commercial Convenience

It won’t be long before there is a quick and easy way to pay tolls, pay for drive-through meals, pay for dry-cleaning, and pay for other drive-up services simply with facial recognition, although it may take a little longer for this technology to become mainstream.

Industry Predictions

No matter where you look, biometrics is expected to explode by 2025-2027, especially in the following industries:

  • Healthcare and life sciences
  • Human resources
  • IT and telecommunication
  • Banking, financial services, and insurance
  • Retail and e-commerce
  • Human resources
  • Government and defense
  • Law enforcement

The industry of automotive biometrics is one of the most promising industries for mechanical engineers to get into. This is why there is a growing demand for positions like mechanical engineers.

High school seniors who are unsure of the direction they want to go in college or even college graduates who have perhaps studied engineering but are unsure about which industry to consider may want to think about automotive biometrics and technology.

It’s fascinating to look at how far we’ve come in the world of automotive biometrics–and biometrics in general–and to imagine how far we might go in the future. Of course, there will undoubtedly be technological advances we can’t conceive of with our current understanding of biometrics. It will be interesting to see what exciting new technologies are on the horizon.

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Noah Rue
Noah Rue
Noah Rue is a journalist and content writer, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn't searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.

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