Pretty soon you can unlock and start your Hyundai with your fingerprint


Keyless entry was once seen as a fancy feature exclusive to luxury vehicles, but these days it is available on just about every new car. Even my Ford Fiesta ST has it, and that interior is more or less made from construction paper and Gorilla Glue. So what’s the next big convenience and safety innovation when it comes to accessing your car? Hyundai is betting on fingerprint technology, similar to what’s currently used to unlock some mobile phones.

On the upcoming 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, you’ll be able to unlock the driver’s door and start the engine using a fingerprint sensor. The sensor will read your “encrypted fingerprint information” and with “capacitance recognition” be five times more effective at preventing unwanted access than conventional keys, including keyless fobs. Hyundai claims the chance of the system mistakenly recognizing someone else’s fingerprint to be 1 in 50,000, and that the system’s success rate will improve over time as the database updates in real time.  

2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 3/4 front
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe Hyundai
Hyundai finger print scanner steering wheel

Hyundai finger print scanner start button

Given that different drivers also have different fingerprints, the Santa Fe will be able to recognize who is accessing the vehicle and adjust the seating position, connected car settings, and side mirror positions accordingly. And according to R&D chief Albert Biermann, the car will also remember your preferred temperature settings, steering wheel position, and more.

It’ll be interesting to see how people react to this technology when it comes to market, because although it might be more secure and convenient than a physical key or a key fob, you’re also trusting Hyundai with very sensitive data: your fingerprint. It also means that the car will know who is behind the wheel at any given time, which could be valuable data for, say, insurance companies, advertisers, or even municipalities catching you on a red-light camera.

Which is to say, if it isn’t already, the future will be a weird and complicated time. Before we know it you’ll be able to get a fingerprint scanner on a Honda Fit, and retinal scanning will be the next big thing. Something tells me the simplicity and anonymity of an old-school lock and key is going to feel like refuge, rather than a quaint and obsolete technology. Long live analog.

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