Apple Wants To Patent Face ID For Cars

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Biometrics are the next wave of security, and in the future, facial recognition and fingerprint readers may do more than just protect your electronic devices. Apple filed a patent application for a system that would add a layer of biometric security to vehicles. While it will likely be many years before we see anything like Face ID for cars, Apple’s patent application does offer some interesting ideas.

Apple patent describes Face ID for cars

Apple’s patent is entitled “System and method for vehicle authorization.” The application was filed in 2017 and published online recently. The biometric system it describes takes cars beyond keys and key fobs. With this system, cars would become much more difficult to steal because instead of just stealing someone’s keys, thieves would have to trick the biometric scanner into allowing them access.

Apple’s Touch ID or Face ID for cars would work with the user’s mobile device. As the user approaches their vehicle, the vehicle sends a signal to their mobile device, possibly requesting a facial or fingerprint scan to grant access. The user would then scan their face or fingerprint using their mobile device to unlock their vehicle.

Some vehicles already allow drivers to use their smartphone as their key, so this biometric system would add another layer of security onto that.

Adjusting driver-specific settings

According to the Apple patent, in the case of vehicles with multiple drivers, the Face ID for cars system could then adjust certain settings in the vehicle when it reads which driver is entering the vehicle, like the seat position or radio settings. This aspect is similar to how vehicles are programmed to change settings based on which key fob is being used to unlock them.

Apple’s patent also references geofencing for gas stations and other businesses. When inside a geofenced area, the system would display a payment screen, enabling the user to pay for gas via their mobile device rather than via the gas pump like is typical now.

Many details to be worked out

As it’s described, this system could be terribly inconvenient for anyone who accidentally drives off without their phone from time to time. On the surface, the system described in the Apple patent sounds like a return to the days of older vehicles when it was so easy to accidentally lock your keys in the car. Of course, we would expect Apple to come up with a solution to this potential problem before it ever launches Face ID for cars. After all, it will likely be many years before we see anything like this in any vehicle, if we ever do at all.

If Apple is actually working on Touch ID or Face ID for cars, it isn’t the first company to be developing biometric security for vehicles. Engadget notes that Hyundai already plans to launch a vehicle which can be unlocked and even started by the driver’s fingerprint later this year, so it seems likely that other automakers are working on similar technologies.

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