Fingerprint sensing in the car: a security or convenience feature – or both? : Page 5 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.
on the steering wheel. In the Synaptics demonstration, the fingerprint sensor is combined with a force sensor also integrated into the sensing pad. This means that an authentication event may be triggered only when the pad is pressed, eliminating the risk that the driver could inadvertently authenticate a payment, for instance, when resting the hands naturally on the steering wheel.


Requirements for a successful implementation

There are three elements to a successful fingerprint sensing implementation. The mechanical design of the sensing pad, the sensitivity of the controller IC, and the algorithms running on the IC for accepting or rejecting fingerprints.


The sensing controller IC and the software it runs may be sourced from third-party suppliers such as Synaptics. Synaptics has the advantage that its automotive fingerprint sensor solutions draw on technology shipped in tens of millions of smartphones worldwide. The learning and development baked into this technology ensure that automotive implementations can achieve just as high a performance as implementations in the mobile phone.


The mechanical design – the area and thickness of the sensing pad, the material it is made of, and its positioning in the vehicle – will be decided by the car manufacturer. Here, OEMs may draw on the experience that Synaptics has had in the smartphone market: smartphone manufacturers have experimented with many different configurations of the sensing pad, for instance. Some have worked, some have not: knowledge of previous design iterations will allow automotive manufacturers to complete sensor designs faster and avoid experimenting with design configurations that are known not to work.


As a proven technology, then, the capacitive method is set to be the first technology for fingerprint sensing to be adopted in the car. Time will tell whether it turns out to be preferred by the automotive industry in the longer term, and no doubt optical, ultrasonic and other technologies will be evaluated, and other forms of biometric sensing

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