Automotive Biometrics: Opportunity, Use-cases, Players, and Challenges
This blog is intended for individuals and organizations who desire a comprehensive understanding of the various applications, growth opportunities, major players, and challenges associated with employing biometrics within the automotive sector.
The information published in this blog was collected via secondary research of the already published content, where various online sources were carefully scrutinized and analyzed.
Biometric technology has become increasingly popular among individuals, particularly those who appreciate facial recognition, voice recognition, and fingerprint scanning. The convenience and ease of using biometrics in daily activities, such as unlocking phones, interacting with Amazon Alexa, and checking in at airports, have attracted many people.
Car manufacturers are utilizing biometric technology to offer greater vehicle convenience and security, giving them an edge in the highly competitive car market. Most have already announced their intention to introduce biometric-enabled premium cars in various global markets. To take advantage of this growth opportunity, tech companies (Apple, Amazon, Google, and others) are disrupting the automotive industry, starting by collaborating with established automakers to enable a wide range of car features from vehicle access, security, and driver monitoring to eventually launching their autonomous vehicles in future. Tesla has already proven this strategy successfully. In addition to leveraging the technology benefits, car manufacturers must uphold biometric security measures while providing convenience and ensuring compliance with national, state, and local privacy regulations.
According to several established research firms, the global automotive-biometrics market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 12%-18% from 2018 to 2025 and is expected to reach almost $2B by 2025. There are several drivers for these growth forecasts.
Need for vehicle security: In 2022, the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) reported that over one million cars were stolen, the highest number in 14 years. Biometrics technology offers a promising solution to prevent theft by implementing face, fingerprint, or gait recognition features. By securely binding the car to its owner when they approach or start it, this technology provides maximum protection against theft and peace of mind for customers who value their high-priced assets, especially in developing countries.
Need for driver safety: According to the National Safety Council (NSC), drowsy driving is responsible for approximately 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities every year. In an at-fault drowsy driving accident, car insurance rates can increase by an average of 42% (around $750). Smart Eye showcased its driver drowsiness, distraction detection, facial identification, and emotion detection technologies at CES. With the emergence of autonomous vehicles, these technologies will enable the detection of driver drowsiness and take control of the vehicle to avoid accidents. The same applies to critical, life-threatening scenarios also. For instance, when the car identifies deteriorating signs of a driver's health concerns such as breathing issues, abnormal heart rate, or any illness, a deviation in the regular blink rate from the average of once every 3 to 5 seconds or a difference in the driver’s tone due to stress, it will have the capability to pull over and even call emergency services for assistance. Using biometrics, it will also be able to deploy airbags based on detecting each passenger's body shape, weight, and size.
Create more value and differentiation: Car manufacturers can maximize the value for their customers and enhance their customer experiences by augmenting biometrics, AI, ML, Computer Vision, and other latest technologies. Mazda's new facial biometrics will let customers create up to six profiles and customize over 250 settings, including seat adjustment, temperature control, mirror positioning, and song selection, based on the customer's mood.
The automotive biometrics sector is divided into several categories, including
Biometric types - face, iris, voice, and gait, as well as contact and contactless options
Use cases - access control, driver safety, driver monitoring, vehicle security, and personalization
Regions - North America, Europe, Asia, and others
Car segments range - low-range, mid-range, luxury, and autonomous vehicles
Fingerprint biometrics have gained immense popularity and are now widely utilized in different industries, including the automotive sector. Car manufacturers like Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz have embraced the use of fingerprint scanners for various purposes, such as unlocking vehicles and car ignition etc. On the downside, fingerprint scanning requires special equipment and active involvement, which can be difficult while driving. It's inconvenient to remove gloves in cold weather and a sensor coated in ice or rain may not recognize the fingerprint.
Facial recognition technology is becoming popular in the automotive industry. Mazda CX-60 and Genesis GV60 have already implemented facial recognition systems for driver profiles and vehicle access. Jaguar Land Rover is testing a system that can monitor the mood of the driver and passengers. Facial biometrics technology can also help verify the driver's identity.
Voice recognition tech in cars lets drivers perform hands-free tasks and access information without taking their eyes off the road. Hyundai's Santa Fe in China and Rivian's R1S and R1T vehicles are integrating Alexa, while Amazon showcased its in-car Alexa voice features and AWS services at CES, including the ability to pay for gas at Exxon and Mobil stations. Amazon is also supplying Rivian with 100,000 electric delivery vans. However, there are security concerns for spoofing voice and hacking connected cars.
While behavioral biometrics can assist in verifying an individual's identity, in this context, it can also detect potential driving issues such as fatigue, sickness, or impairment. Behavioral biometrics can indicate if a person is nodding off or driving erratically by monitoring behaviors such as wandering eyes, excessive steering movements, or unnecessary acceleration and braking when there is no traffic. This technology can be valuable in ensuring safe and responsible driving practices.
Car manufacturers can incorporate costly cameras, sensors, and hardware into their high-end, luxury vehicles, allowing for more personalized experiences using multimodal biometrics such as iris, face, voice, and gait recognition in developed markets. In contrast, they may opt for inexpensive cameras to enable facial recognition in low to medium-range cars in developing countries/markets.
Some of the biometric technology providers I came across in my research are described in the table below. It is by no means a complete list.
Gentex RankOne NEC Paravision Incode Liveness Detection: IDRnD iProov FaceTec
Smart Eye EyeLock IDEX Biometrics Iris Guard
Cerence Amazon Nuance Sensory Inc
Bayometric Fingerprint cards Next Biometrics Synaptics
This is old but still possible today: Police in Malaysia are hunting for members of a violent gang who chopped off a car owner's finger to get around the vehicle's hi-tech security system (link).
While biometric technology offers significant benefits, car manufacturers must carefully consider a range of potential issues before integrating it into their platforms. These issues include the reliability, accuracy, and security (including robust liveness detection) of the biometric system, the quality and ethical sourcing of the training data, achieving a balance between user convenience and security, safeguarding the privacy and security of customers' biometric data (including preventing fraudulent activity), adhering to regulatory requirements, and mitigating cybersecurity risks. It is crucial for car manufacturers to carefully weigh these concerns before making any decisions about incorporating biometric technology into their vehicles.
The advancements made in biometric technology have significantly increased its reliability, security, and speed. This presents a promising opportunity for car manufacturers globally as more individuals continue to accept biometric technology such as facial recognition, voice recognition, fingerprint recognition, and other methods. Integrating biometric technology into cars can considerably improve the driving experience, enhancing driver and car security, convenience, and personalization for all passengers. However, there are valid concerns about the potential misuse of personal biometric data, which cannot be changed like passwords. As a result, car manufacturers must carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating this technology into their car platforms. It's essential to consider the context in which this technology is used.
Disclaimer: I do not have any investments in any of the companies above, and the information provided is purely my perspective based on secondary research on the internet.