Fingerprint sensing in the car: a security or convenience feature – or both? : Page 2 of 6

April 29, 2016 //By Raja Bose, Synaptics
Fingerprint sensing in the car: a security or convenience feature – or both?
For more than five years, car manufacturers have looked to the smartphone to provide a model for the development of an increasingly sophisticated user experience, particularly for the driver. Cars have followed the smartphone’s lead by, for instance, providing a larger Centre Information Display (CID) screen offering higher resolution and fast, responsive capacitive touch sensing.
is too great for car manufacturers to accept. For security reasons, therefore, fingerprint sensing would always need to be backed by a supplementary form of access control. Conventional RF-operated keys, then, are not about to be superseded by fingerprint sensors on the door handle or Start button.


Fingerprint sensing does, however, enable two far-reaching improvements to the driver’s user experience: personalization, and payment authentication.


In a car with two or more regular drivers, the fingerprint sensor may identify who is driving, allowing the car’s operations to be configured to that driver’s preferred settings. This affects convenience settings such as the position and height of the driver’s seat, mirrors and steering wheel, comfort settings such as the temperature and direction of the cabin air stream and vents, and entertainment settings, such as Bluetooth pairing with the driver’s phone, the choice of favorite radio stations, the sound balance in the audio system, and even the appearance and menu configuration of the CID.


Personalization of the user interface strengthens the emotional bond between owners and their vehicle, making it uniquely theirs. In an important way it also improves the driver’s ability to make use of the sophisticated features and functions in a car, many of which in today’s cars are hidden behind multi-layered menu structures and complex sets of commands. Research has shown that for every step added to a user interface, 10% of the users drop out. Personalization via a fingerprint sensor reduces the number of steps to one or even none for many aspects of the user interface, thus making valuable features much more readily accessible to users.


In-car fingerprint sensors can also dramatically improve the user’s experience of making payments inside the car, for instance when paying road tolls and parking fees, or to charge a payment card at a drive-through store.


At a parking garage, for example, a number plate recognition system would automatically

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