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Hyundai new car system lets drivers unlock and start vehicle using fingerprints


Hyundai has unveiled a new car system that lets drivers unlock and start a vehicle using their fingerprints. The tech is built in to the door handle and ignition button of the new 2019 Santa Fe SUV, showcased at an auto show in China last week. Starting next year, Hyundai will begin selling cars that drivers can unlock and turn on with the touch of a finger.



Multiple owners will be able to register their encrypted fingerprint data for the same vehicle, according to the South Korean auto-maker. And, depending on the person using the car, it will then automatically adjust seat positions and the angle of the rearview mirrors. Hyundai said. For now, the company is planing to limit the feature to China upon its launch in the first quarter of 2019. Eventually, Hyundai hopes that it will be able to automatically customize temperature, steering preferences, and more.

The fingerprint sensor uses human capacitance to pull off the trick, differentiating between the electricity levels in different parts of the finger to prevent hacking or faked fingerprints. Hyundai said the system -- which receives your encrypted fingerprint data from the touch sensor in the handle before unlocking the car -- has an error rate of 1 in 50,000 (that's the same figure touted by Apple for its Touch ID tech for iPhones, iPads, and select MacBooks).

Synaptics, a San Jose-based company known for creating touch technology for the original iPod’s click wheel as well as touch sensors for many current Android phones, recently told AutoWeek that it was eager to begin bringing this technology to cars.

Although this is the first car to offer a fingerprint reader that’s built into a door’s handle or ignition button, Engadget notes that the Tesla Model 3 does allow drivers to start their cars with a smartphone enabled fingerprint scan.

Of course this technology could come with risks. New research out of New York University and Michigan State University, for example, found that artificial intelligence can create fake digital fingerprints that are able trick phone fingerprint scanners the key to everything from app store purchases to bank account information.

This isn't the first time fingerprints have been used to start cars, but the unlocking tech has never before been baked in to a vehicle's door handle. Tesla Model 3 owners are also already using their smartphone as a car key while the rest of the industry (including Hyundai) is busy building a virtual key standard that could popularize the tech. Elsewhere, Hertz recently brought biometric data to car rentals at Atlanta International Airport.

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