FINGERPRINT AUTHENTICATION IN AUTOMOBILES

February 11, 2017


FACTS:

  • 707,758 motor vehicles were reported stolen in the United States in 2015, up three point one (3.1) percent from 2014, according to the FBI.
  • A motor vehicle was stolen in the United States every forty-five (45) seconds in 2015.
  • Eight of the top ten cities with the highest rate of vehicle theft in 2015 were in California, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
  • Nationwide, the 2015 motor vehicle theft rate per 100,000 people was 220.2, up two point two (2.2) percent from 2015.2 in 2014. The highest rate was reported in the West, 371.5 or up eight point two (8.2) percent from 342.2 in 2014.
  • In 2015, only thirteen point one (13.1) percent of motor vehicle thefts were cleared, either by arrests or by exceptional mean, compared with 2014 percent for arson and nineteen point four (19.4) percent for all property crimes. Very disappointing statistics indeed.
  • Autos accounted for 74.7 percent of all motor vehicles stolen in 2015, trucks and buses accounted for 14.8 percent and other vehicles for 10.5 percent.

Given below are the cities in which most vehicles are stolen:

top-10-cities-for-stolen-vehicles

TOP TEN VEHICLES STOLEN:

The National Insurance Crime Bureau ranked the 10 most stolen vehicles in the country with data from the NCIC. Let’s take a look.  The actual numbers are in parentheses.

  1. Honda Accord (52,244)
  2. Honda Civic(49,430)
  3. Ford pickup (full size) (29,396)
  4. Chevrolet pickup (full size) (27,771)
  5. Toyota Camry (15,466)
  6. Ram pickup (full size) (11,212)
  7. Toyota Corolla(10,547)
  8. Nissan Altima (10,374)
  9. Dodge Caravan (9,798)
  10. Chevrolet Impala(9,225)

Automotive engineers continue to examine smartphone system and design to provide models for the development of an increasingly sophisticated user experience, with large center information displays and capacitive touchscreen being a good example.  Now designers are adding another smartphone feature, the fingerprint sensor to enhance modernization of the driver’s interface to functions in and beyond the automobile. This and other forms of biometric authentication, show great promise if implemented with sensitivity to user privacy and the extremes of the automotive operating environment.

BIOMETRICS:

Just what is the science of Biometrics?

Biometrics may be a fairly new term to some individuals so it is entirely appropriate at this time to define the technology.  This will lay the groundwork for the discussion to follow.  According to the International Biometric Society:

“Biometrics is used to refer to the emerging field of technology devoted to identification of individuals using biological traits, such as those based on retinal or iris scanning, fingerprints, or face recognition.”

The terms “Biometrics” and “Biometry” have been used since early in the 20th century to refer to the field of development of statistical and mathematical methods applicable to data analysis problems in the biological sciences.

From the Free Dictionary, we see the following definition:

  • The statistical study of biological phenomena.
  • The measurement of physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, DNA, or retinal patterns for use in verifying the identity of individuals.
  • Biometricsrefers to metrics related to human characteristics. Biometrics authentication (or realistic authentication) is used in computer science as a form of identification and access control. It is also used to identify individuals in groups that are under surveillance.

Biometric identifiers are the distinctive, measurable characteristics used to label and describe individuals. Biometric identifiers are often categorized as physiological versus behavioral characteristics. Physiological characteristics are related to the shape of the body.  Examples include, but are not limited to fingerprint, palm veins and odor/scent.  Behavioral characteristics are related to the pattern of behavior of a person, including but not limited to typing rhythm, gait, and voice.  Some researchers have coined the term behaviometrics to describe the latter class of biometrics.

More traditional means of access control include token-based identification systems, such as a driver’s license or passport, and knowledge-based identification systems, such as a password or personal identification number.  Since biometric identifiers are unique to individuals, they are more reliable in verifying identity than token and knowledge-based methods; however, the collection of biometric identifiers raises privacy concerns about the ultimate use of this information.

The oldest biometric identifier is facial recognition. The dimensions, proportions and physical attributes of a person’s face are unique and occur very early in infants.   A child will (obviously) recognize a parent, a brother or sister.  It is only since the advent of computers and accompanying software that the ability to quantify facial features has become possible.

The FBI has long been a leader in biometrics and has used various forms of biometric identification since the very earliest day.  This Federal institution assumed responsibility for managing the national fingerprint collection in 1924.  As you know, fingerprints vary from person to person (even identical twins have different prints) and don’t change over time. As a result, they are an effective way of identifying fugitives and helping to prove both guilt and innocence.

AUTOMOTIVE BIOMETRICS USING FINGERPRINT TECHNOLOGY:

What areas of a typical vehicle might benefit from specifically identifying a human being and matching that person to a particular car? Several possibilities come to mind:

  • Secure Access;
    ● Ignition Permission;
    ● Seat Reservations;
    ● On board communication systems;
    ● Anti-Theft programs;
    ● Driving license suspension programs.

All of these would insure privacy and access.  The two digital photographs below will serve to indicate how this methodology might work for an automobile.

starting-the-car

The fingerprint reader can be located in the steering wheel so the driver can concentrate in a better fashion.  This definitely desirable if biometric fingerprints are used for purposes other than starting the vehicle.

starting-the-car2

With this in mind, there are three mainstream fingerprint-sensing technologies available for automotive applications. These are as follows:

  • Capacitive Sensing—This is used in the world’s best-selling smartphones due to very small size: a sensing pad a few tens of microns thick and a small controller allow for very low power consumption.
  • Optical Fingerprint Sensing—Optical sensors are highly reliable and accurate, and so are widely used at border crossings. However, the sensors require a backlight to illuminate the finer.  They are still comparatively bulky compared to capacitive solutions.
  • Ultrasonic Sensing—This offers reliable detection of fingerprints in 3 D but has not found its way into mainstream mobile devices and is relative expensive.

CONCLUSIONS:

I believe biometrics will play a much bigger role in the automotive industry over the next few years.  Biometric fingerprinting could be used in a host of areas including:

  • Access to cabin compartment
  • Starting
  • Accessing cellphone communications
  • Allowing for application software located on cellphone so warm up in very cold climates could be made possible.

Now—here is the downside.  Someone has to be capable of troubleshooting a failed device and fix same if difficulties arise.  As complexity grows, we move more toward replace than fix.  Replace is costly.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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