Biometrics could play a

greater role in

vehicle security and safety as fingerprint technology

matures and consumer acceptance

becomes higher.

❱ ❱ Hyundai is making its Santa Fe model available with biometric access control in some markets later this year


iometric technology, the use of some unique attribute of human biology to confirm someone’s identity, is already familiar to most people who

use smartphones or have upgraded to the latest passports, but its development, its deployment in mainstream applications and acceptance has been a long struggle that’s still continuing.

A QUESTION OF COMPARISON Biometric devices can’t make absolute identifications, they can only compare to information that already exists. Airport scanners compare facial features to the parameters held in the chip in the passport. If the features match, the gate opens. Some airports and other public places

have cameras that pick up biometric details from crowds and compare them to “watch lists”, a database of biometric identities of known suspects, absconders and criminals. The third type of comparison is that which is used in security systems for access control and consumer products such as mobile phones. This comparison is based on enrolment. Enrolling is teaching the access control reader or smartphone to recognise your chosen biometric. An example is to place your

2 /// Automotive Test & Validation Vol 2 No. 1

finger on the reader a number of times to provide enough samples for the reader to subsequently compare and recognise the fingerprint as belonging to the authorised user. It’s this third type of comparison that’s used for vehicle biometric keys and the enrolment process is crucially important for robust security and ease of use.

HOW IT WORKS A multi-spectral fingerprint scanner is used to examine the detail of the fingerprint. A simple photograph isn’t enough as the scanner needs to see deep detail and even penetrate to the subcutaneous layer using IR imaging. Using a multi-spectral approach makes it easier to subsequently recognise dirty, worn or even damaged fingers that could be presented to the scanner for recognition. Software detects “liveness” to prevent

latex copies from being used and also identifies enough minutiae on the fingerprint to be able to uniquely identify it. The minimum number varies by reader but should be no less than 8 – the higher the number, the lower the chance of failure. The resulting biometric signature is then hashed into a random number that is stored in the computer for comparison.

❱ ❱ The number of minutiae matched in fingerprint patterns with stored templates determines the level of security as well as ease of use

When a finger is presented to the reader for identification, the same hashing algorithm is used on the biometric signature and if the random number matches the one stored, access is given.

LEVEL OF SECURITY Biometrics have the capability to be used in very high security applications but there is a balance to be achieved between affordability, ease of use and level of security. High end scanners have a very low probability of false acceptance (giving unauthorised access) and false rejection (not providing access to authorised users). The scanner and software can be tuned to some extent by reducing the false rejection rate and thereby increasing usability but this tends to increase the false acceptance rate so reduces security levels. An example where this may be acceptable is a factory time and attendance system. Biometrics are frequently used to prevent one employee clocking in for another. The user population is very low so the chances of one fingerprint being similar enough to another to trigger a false acceptance is also very low. In this case, the biometric system can be tuned to reduce false rejection rates to make it easier and faster to use.

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