The Truth About Opening Your Car With Fingerprint

by IndianAuto Team | 07/02/2019
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We all have turned the house upside down to look for our precious car key at least once in our life. But, you do not have to worry about that anymore, because modern technology has allowed your fingerprint to be the ultimate car key.

Biometric technology is no stranger to people of the 21st century. Most people use it on a daily basis to unlock their smartphones, laptops, and tablets, or to confirm their attendence; but using your own fingerprints to open a car has been more or less a reality from a sci-fi movie. Actually, biometric authentication has been utilised on Tesla car’s ignition button for quite some time, but let’s be real, not that many people have the privilege to drive an electric car that costs around USD 50,000 (approximately Rs. 35.71 lakh), tax not included. Also, the fingerprint scanner on the ignition button is only able to start your car, and you still need a key or some other additional devices to get into the car in the first place. So, the pain of having to locate your car key every morning before work is still present.

Surprisingly, the solution to eliminating the outdated metal key or the modern smartkey altogether was revealed at the Guangzhou Motor Show just before the turn of new year by the South Korean automaker, Hyundai.

1. What is new about Hyundai’s “fingerprint car key” technology?

As stated before, biometric authentication has been used in cars before, but the idea of totally replacing the conventional car key is still somewhat a far-fetched dream. The reason why you have not been able to use your fingerprint to open and operate your car as freely as you do with your smartphone is entirely because of Mother Nature. If the fingerprint scanner is put on the door handle, you can imagine how much the fragile device is exposed to such elements as direct sunlight, rain, snow, and dirt, which would destroy the scanner in no time. For this reason, developing the technology for a fingerprint car key has been taking a while, but the good news is that it is here. For now, the technology will only be available in the newest Hyundai Santa Fe SUV in selected regions starting with China in 2019, but Hyundai says the company is ready to expand to other parts of the world.

When you use your fingertip to touch the scanner located on the door handle of the new Santa Fe, the information received by the sensor will be delivered to and processed by the fingerprint controller inside the car. Each registered fingerprint is given a profile that contains information about the preferred driving environment of each driver. Therefore, when you use the biometric authentication to open your new Santa Fe SUV, the car will automatically adjust the height of the driver seat, the infotainment system, and the angles of the side-view mirrors to your preference. When you want to start the car, you only have to touch your registered finger on the start button, and your car is good to go.

grey hyundai 2019 santa fe on a field

Hyundai 2019 Santa Fe SUV is the first car in the world that uses biometric authentication to open and start

2. The advantages of the fingerprint car key

2.1 Up to 5 people can hold the “key” to your car

Hyundai’s fingerprint technology is not like any biometric authentication that you have seen. As you know, Hyundai’s fingerprint controller creates a driver’s profile based on your fingerprint and driving preference, then you may wonder if you are sharing the family’s car with your spouse or somebody else, how are they going to be able to open and start it? Well, Hyundai definitely took that matter into consideration when they created the biometric system as up to 5 drivers can be registered to each car, and each driver will have his or her own driver’s profile on the fingerprint controller. So you do not have to fight with your spouse over things like when he or she forgets to adjust the driver seat’s position after taking the car out for a drive.

woman putting finger on car start button

Hyundai 2019 Santa Fe SUV allows a maximum of 5 people to be registered to the fingerprint system

2.2 Unparalleled convenience and security

Having your own fingerprint as your car key is indisputably convenient as the risk of losing your key or forgetting where you put it diminishes considerably. Also, Hyundai says that the fingerprint scanner has the ability to detect and measure the specific electrical current of your fingertip, so there is virtually no chance for those who want to hijack the system by using a fake fingerprint. According to Hyundai, the advanced technology allows the sensor to have an error rate of 1 in 50,000, which makes the fingerprint key 5 times more secure than traditional car keys and about as effective as Touch ID on Apple’s products. Moreover, the biometric system employs a dynamic update self-learning technology, so the car can automatically improve on its success rate.

finger pressing on biometric sensor

Hyundai’s advanced biometric authentication keeps your beloved vehicle more protected from potential car thieves

3. The disadvantages of the fingerprint car key

While the biometric technology has some obvious pros, cons are somewhat inevitable.

3.1 Damaged sensor on the door handle

Even though Hyundai claims that the company has developed the necessary technology to create a strong and durable fingerprint sensor on the door handle, there are still some doubts surrounding how long it can actually last, especially in places like India where the weather is unexpected and severe. Regarding this matter, unfortunately, Hyundai has not revealed any experiment results or relevant statistics. It is also highly concerned whether the fingerprint can still be scanned properly in case the sensor surface is scratched or scraped, because we all know the door handle does not lay flat or is indented on the car’s body.

pressing hand on fingerprint sensor on car door handle

There are concerns over the durability of the fingerprint sensor on the door handle

3.2 Dirty or damaged fingerprints

This situation may not happen to everyone, but there are many people who happen to have oily or sweaty hands in the summer, and we savvy smartphone users all know that biometric scanner does not work well with water. Or in some random situations where you have just eaten some piri piri fries or buttery pav bhaji and your hand is not quite in its pristine state, you are not likely to get in the car. So, when you want to open or start your car using the fingerprint sensor, you have to make sure that at least the fingertip which you are going to press on the sensor is squeaky clean.

Also, there are a few people who have innately blurry fingerprints or have to work in conditions which cause them to lose their fingerprints gradually. In such cases, they are not likely to be able to use the car that uses biometric authentication.

biometric fingerprint screen

People with dirty, wet, or unclear fingerprints will have a hard time getting in their own car

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