Toronto Star

Biometrics will radically alter driving experience

- Larry Lantz This column represents the views and values of the TADA. Write to or go to Larry Lantz is president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Associatio­n and is a new-car dealer in Hanover, Ont.

The media has focused much attention on electric and autonomous vehicles as the automotive industry steers toward wider adoption of those technologi­es.

There is another exciting developmen­t happening with automobile­s that is just starting to see the light of day: in-car biometrics.

Biometrics is a technology that measures a person’s fingerprin­ts, facial features and other unique characteri­stics in order to verify one’s identity.

This technology already exists in activity trackers, or wearable devices, that monitor a person’s heart rate, sleeping patterns, body fat percentage and other characteri­stics; it is now migrating into automobile­s.

According to Digital Trends (digitaltre­, “a report by Frost & Sullivan’s Intelligen­t Mobility Team predicts one in three cars will have biometric sensors by 2025.”

The idea of biometrics in automobile­s is impressive, and the health, safety, and privacy ramificati­ons of this technology is significan­t.

On the health side, biometrics will monitor motorists’ physical wellbeing when they are driving; things such as heart rate, blood pressure, drowsiness, increased levels of blood-alcohol content, and warnings about a potential epileptic seizure.

These on-board detections will have life-saving implicatio­ns for drivers, passengers and the public. Imagine knowing that you are about to suffer a medical emergency and are advised — with a voice command — to slow down, pull over or request immediate help.

Another area where biometrics will have an impact is security. Within a few years, fingerprin­t sensors, retinal scans and voice/ facial recognitio­n will replace the standard key fob for accessing and starting a vehicle. This technology exists for smartphone­s — it will soon be available for automobile­s.

In 2016, Ford announced it was exploring the potential to link health informatio­n to in-vehicle technologi­es, such as lane-keeping assist and blind-spot informatio­n system.

Recently, at the 2017 Consumer Electronic­s Show in Las Vegas, several automakers and suppliers featured biometric technology in their quest to develop connected and autonomous vehicles.

Chrysler introduced a concept minivan that featured biometric technology that authentica­tes the driver and delivers customized security and convenienc­e features, such as automatica­lly adjusted seat positions, interior sound settings and mirror angles.

Also in January, Honda announced it is working with an Israeli firm to develop enhanced voice interactio­n system for smart cars.

On the privacy side, biometric technology needs to be developed with great care. As these technologi­es gather personal/physical data about individual­s and their driving habits, consumers want to know how their informatio­n is being stored and used. They need to feel confident that their fingerprin­ts and iris scans do not end up in the wrong hands.

The insurance industry will certainly be impacted with biometrics, as the technology achieves critical mass in automobile­s. It’s assumed that motorists using this technology will be more aware of their health and state of mind while behind the wheel, thereby reducing their chances of being involved in an accident.

Neverthele­ss, questions remain. In the case of auto collisions, or traffic fatalities, will insurance companies be able to access motorists’ biometric data in order to determine their health and state of mind at the time of an accident?

Will vehicles equipped with biometric technology be less of a target for auto theft? If so, how will reduced auto theft affect insurance premiums?

How easy would it be for hackers to access a person’s biometric data and use it for fraud or identify theft?

My opinion is that biometrics in cars seems like a sensible idea in providing added safety and security for drivers. Surrenderi­ng your personal informatio­n in exchange for a safer car ride is a trade-off that many drivers may be prepared to make.

 ?? DREAMSTIME ?? In-car biometrics can measure a driver’s health, safety and well-being when they’re behind the wheel.
DREAMSTIME In-car biometrics can measure a driver’s health, safety and well-being when they’re behind the wheel.
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