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Driving the Connected Car: Biometrics for Personalisation and Security

Connected cars

As connectivity improves, analysts forecast that the number of connected cars will jump by 45% from 2014 to 2020
BI Intelligence

We’re living in a time of unprecedented connectivity.

The advent of mobile and digital technologies has changed how we work, pay bills, access services, consume media and even build relationships. We can do our banking on the move, watch movies and television on demand and even control our home appliances remotely.

But as quickly as connected technologies emerge, so too do the risks and opportunities associated with them. Biometric means of authentication are playing an important role in securing, and even bettering, our connected world.

Apple has brought biometric authentication mainstream with its revolutionary TouchID and now FaceID functionality, leveraging our unique human identifiers to offer the security we crave to use connected services and devices the way we want to.

As we become more comfortable with using our fingerprints, our eyes, our faces and even our heartbeats to vouch for us, the possibilities of such technologies grow. What’s the next stage?

That stage looks set to be dominated by a new travel experience with connected cars, powered by vehicle biometrics.

Driving Connectivity

 

Today’s car has the computing power of 20 personal computers, features about 100 million lines of programming code, and processes up to 25 gigabytes of data an hour
McKinsey, ‘What’s Driving the Connected Car’, 2014

Connected cars and driverless technology is getting closer to the mainstream as we speak.

The innovative work of companies like Tesla, Uber and Waymo on rolling out autonomous vehicles is disrupting the vehicle industry at a fast clip, transforming traditionally long manufacturing cycles and the supply chain relationships between manufacturers, dealers and customers.

It’s interesting to note here that technology businesses are entering this traditional market and making strides to lead it ahead of car manufacturers and retailers, marking an important power shift.

The car was a mechanical device, now it’s an electronic device. Who is better placed – Apple or General Motors? Definitely Apple. The tech companies are a huge threat.
Andrey Nikishin, Kaspersky Lab

The connected customer wants to mirror a connected, personalised experience across devices and now their vehicles.

Driverless vehicles open up a world of time for consumers. Picture getting into your vehicle and settling down for your commute to work, or even for a long road trip. Without the requirement to concentrate on the mechanics of driving, cars can become personal entertainment and enrichment extensions of our lives.

Even if driverless technology seems a little way off, progress is being made on connected vehicles, allowing drivers to connect to their devices and take greater control of the in-car experience.

So how do we create these experiences? Biometrics could be key.

Personalising the Driving Experience with Biometrics

 

Almost 34 million passenger vehicles will have either built-in, brought in, cloud enabled or a combination of all three biometric technologies by 2025.
Biometrics in the Global Automotive Industry, 2016–2025, Frost and Sullivan

Biometrics could be used to trigger user-based settings, creating a tailored dashboard for an individualised in-vehicle experience.

What could this look like?

The experience could begin with unlocking the vehicle with a smartphone or wearable device, negating the need for a key. Once in, you could ignite the vehicle using biometric sensors located on the steering wheel.

These sensors could then load your personal profile into the vehicle, adjusting the environment to your preference and connecting your devices.

Multiple modals could be at play. Commands can be made using voice recognition and facial or iris recognition facilitated through the rearview mirror. ECG biometrics can be enabled through the steering wheel.

Connection with payments services make refuelling or passing through toll areas seamless, authenticating and storing biometric credentials.

An interesting side effect of embedding biometric integrations into vehicles is the potential for vehicles to monitor and extract vital health data from individuals.

Connected vehicles become health monitors, picking up on changes in physical states, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Heart rate
  • Stress
  • Blood pressure

These insights could transform vehicle insurance. With biometric profiles being unique, in particular an internal and hard-to-replicate modal like ECG, premiums no longer need to rely on predicted behaviours. Individual premiums could be created on health data and fraudulent claims involving other users could be reduced.

Securing the Connected Vehicle

Although the convenience of the connected vehicle is undeniable, consumers are understandably nervous about the impact a hack could have – and with good reason.

Connecting your vehicle to the internet could open the vehicle up to compromise, as with any software, leaving you open to having your data stolen and your personal services accessed.

This is where biometric authentication could come into its own – and specifically, internal modals.

As an internal metric, ECG carries inherent security. It is much more difficult to harvest, spoof or counterfeit an individual’s heart rate pattern.

Liveness detection is also an important differential. With most biometrics operating as a static modal, ECG uses dynamic indicators to confirm liveness.

An interesting application is highlighted by a video capturing a recent relay theft of a vehicle – an ECG authenticated solution could have prevented this from happening.

Watch video:

Transformative Connectivity

The connected driving experience is already becoming a reality.

We’re entering the next part of our journey into complete connectivity, and we’re about to do it in our vehicles.

Biometrics plays an important part, both in transforming the in-car experience and in giving us the security we need to benefit from this transformation.

On a wider scale, vehicle biometrics has the potential to disrupt not just car manufacturing itself but the services dependent on the current model. Insurers and dealerships could find themselves fighting the tech giants seeking to deliver the change the connected consumer is driving.

The question is not whether we can reach the destination of an autonomous and connected vehicle, but how quickly.

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