How biometric technologies will help secure the future of the automotive industry
This is a guest post by Martin Zizi, founder and CEO of Aerendir Mobile.
You probably remember what happened last year in Ohio when an 8-year-old boy was craving a cheeseburger in the middle of the night, and decided to drive his dad’s van to a fast food chain close to his home. When the police stopped him, the boy explained that driving was simple: He just watched some YouTube tutorial videos, and then effortlessly chauffeured his 4 year-old sister half a mile from his home while his parents were sleeping.
The safety and security of the human in self-driving vehicles
You don’t have to be a parent to understand that this could have resulted in tragedy (though thankfully everyone was safe). However this story exposed several safety concerns around the access to automobiles. What’s more, it raised serious concerns around the future of automobile safety and security, specifically as conversations around self-driving and autonomous cars become increasingly more prevelant as the technology is more refined and accessible.
Everything from unauthorized car entry by a family member or stranger to in-car medical emergencies become much more extreme when discussing self-driving cars – there’s a real need to explore and define the solutions that not only protect the human inside but the humans outside the vehicle as well.
Like computers and phones, every connected object will be at risk of malware, ransomware and hacking. In the case of a vehicle, the passenger(s) can be physically locked inside and captured by malicious actors, and/or accidents can be provoked. Technological progress is neutral – it is up to humans to choose how we use it. We need to be able to usher the coming revolution in mobility of connected vehicles by putting the human in charge. Technology is there to serve us and make our lives better, not the other way around – and this is true whether we are dealing with autonomous vehicles, the front doors of our homes, or simple activities such as checking an email or shopping online.
Nowadays, human-vehicle interactions range from level “zero” to “five” – from fully controlled by humans (level 0), to fully automated (level 5). A fully automated car can handle any road and any condition that a human driver can. One just enters a destination and the car will take you there, with the AI there to help. This technology isn’t currently available yet, but films including I, Robot, Minority Report and Batman have all featured level 5 autonomous vehicles.
Accordingly to the McKinsey Global Institute, the total share of unmanned vehicles (both fully autonomous and semi-autonomous) will reach 15-20% by 2025. A study conducted by the US Department of Transportation (DoT) points out that self-driving car technology will allow mankind to save about $1 trillion in total and provide a 70% reduction in the number of fatal accidents.
Those statistics do not contradict that automation increases safety risks, as hackers and unauthorized drivers were not considered in forecasts. Even worse – none of the automobile manufacturers have devised a consistent technology to shield abuse from hackers. We will not be owners of cars but rather, users – whether the car will be on-demand, shared or rented, we will “own” it for the finite period of time of a single trip. It is obvious that owning a car and having it remain idle for 90% of the time is not an optimal use of resources.
The car “key” of the future
We need to replace the standard ignition key with a “key” that is shareable and can recognize the temporary user as legitimate. This “key” has to prevent hacking and shield the vehicle when in use. It can also be a “key” that serves as a virtual card for tolls and gas but more importantly, serves as a method for disabling the vehicle, should the driver need immediate medical assistance.
This “key” is something that already exists: it is our own unique and biometric signals emitted by our body.
The body is truly a password for our identity, but can also be considered our shield. Thanks to live physiological biometrics, a self-driving connected vehicle can recognize its paying user, welcome the person, and prevent hacking by syncing the commands and controls uniquely to this temporary passenger. While doing so, it can also monitor the physiology and identify when the driver is losing consciousness, feeling unwell, etc.
While these ideas and solutions may sound like something from the distant future, they are already products that we at Aerendir are working on today. Aerendir created a biometrics solution called NeuroPrint. Our product extracts a unique proprioceptive signature, originating in our brains, using micro-vibrational patterns in the user’s muscles. In fact, this signature can be read in any muscle. We started with the hands due to our constant use of mobile devices and followed with our backs. Implementing this technology inside car seats and car doors by adding the needed sensors and micro-controllers will be the next step to protecting the driver and the world around them.
Well-designed physiological biometrics is an important need for the future of transportation – not only to make the whole process smoother and safer but also to make the vehicle user-centric instead of server-centric. In the future, we have to put humans at the center of our technology, protecting both his/her integrity and privacy.
About the Author
Martin Zizi, MD-PhD, is the founder and CEO of Aerendir. Martin is the inventor of the Neuro Print, a cloudless physiological biometrics technology for authentication, identification and encryption.
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