Fingerprint sensing in the car: a security or convenience feature – or both? : Page 3 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.
identify the car, and a payments back end would link the car to a pre-registered payment card. The payment terminal would then send a payment authorisation request wirelessly to the car. The driver would authenticate the use of the payment card to pay the parking fee by pressing the fingerprint sensor (see Figure 1).

Fig. 1: fingerprint sensing implemented in a capacitive touchscreen would provide a quick and convenient way for the driver to authenticate a payment.

Standards such as the UAF specification published by the FIDO Alliance ( define processes for acknowledging biometric indicators such as fingerprints as an alternative to passwords or PINs. Authentication by fingerprint is a far quicker and easier operation than leaning through the driver’s door window to insert a card in a reader and then enter a PIN on a keypad. 


Biometric indicators: which will the car industry favor?

Various forms of biometric sensing are under consideration by the car industry, including facial recognition, iris recognition and heart-rate variability (a parameter which may be measured by a wireless health-monitoring wristband) as well as fingerprint sensing. Looking into the future, there is some interest in the potential to use biometric indicators such as heart rate, blood pressure and sweat to make a reading of the driver’s state of health and state of mind. This might allow the car to issue an alert to the driver, for instance to park the car and rest if the indicators suggest that the driver is drowsy.  With the advent of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), the car may even take over control from the driver and park itself in a safe place.


Today, however, the industry’s preferred biometric indicator is the fingerprint. This is because the operation of fingerprint sensors is well understood by users, and because the technology of fingerprint sensing has been proven in the mobile device industry.


There are in fact three fingerprint

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