Iris Recognition as an Emerging Technology for Connected Cars

Iris biometric connected car

In-car payment app example

The term ‘connected car’ refers to any automobile with internet access which allows them to connect to other devices within the car and/or devices, networks and services outside the car including other cars, home, office and infrastructure. Increased connectivity has also introduced new risks and attack vectors into the connected car ecosystem.

According to IBM, a modern vehicle is like a “datacenter on wheels” where up to 80% of innovation is driven by software and may contain as much as potentially 10,000 vulnerabilities. In fact, hackers can take over the car navigation and even take control of cars 3,000 miles away. Moreover, a team of Kaspersky researchers have found serious vulnerabilities in mobile apps for connected cars that could let hackers track and unlock vehicles, according to a new article from Wired. The most common near-term consequence of vehicle hacking was in July 2015, it was reported that hacker Sammy Kamkar had invented a $100 device that attacked General Motors’ OnStar communication systems and allowed a hacker to track, unlock, and start the vehicle. Therefore, Kaspersky indicates in its report the growing need for more sophisticated digital identity security such as biometric authentication as connected cars continue to get smarter.

Biometric technologies, for example fingerprint scanner, voice and iris recognition can offer keyless access control and user identification solutions which could help to protect drivers against these digital threats, as well as enhance user experience inside the vehicle. Iris biometric appears to be one of the best candidates as an automatic user authentication due to its well-known high accuracy, robustness, non-touch nature, and the ability to work in dark environment. Imagine the driver is on the seat and about to start the engine, the iris camera flashes its IR LED and automatically captures the iris images. Iris identification will then be done automatically. If a match is found, the user’s name will be displayed in the console screen and/or a welcome voice message is played. In this scenario, the iris camera can be placed on the rear view mirror, the A-pillar, or the steering wheel as those places are close enough to the driver’s eyes but do not occlude his/her view while driving the car.

After successful user authentication, vehicles will be able to adjust car settings to accommodate different driving styles, driver profiles including maps, music, phone book, etc. Furthermore, when the car is connected to a payment system, it can also perform cashless in-car payments at gas stations, drive-through stores or parking lot. Not only that ride-sharing service like Uber can leverage the technology to ensure only authorized drivers can use the car during their working hours but also currently, major car makers are starting to explore the integration of biometric authentication into the cars themselves like Continental, Jaguar Land Rover, Denso, Valeo, etc.

According to Research and Markets report, connected car market is expected to reach $155 billion by 2022. Meanwhile, 75 percent of the estimated 92 million cars shipped globally in 2020 will be built with internet connectivity is reported by BI Intelligence. Gartner also predicts that by 2020, there will be a quarter billion connected vehicles on the road, enabling new in-vehicle services and automated driving capabilities. As the market grows, attacks on automobile systems will increase simultaneously. By applying biometric solutions, digital identity of users can be secured, hence help assuage security concerns as well as provide a number of safety and comfort benefits for drivers.