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Automotive biometrics market could receive US legislative boost

Ford to deploy Alexa to 700K vehicles this year

automotive biometrics

The advance of both face and voice biometrics into automobiles have received a boost, with a major business partnership and prospective legislation in the United States. The advance is not entirely without pushback, however.

A partnership between Amazon and Ford has been extended to bring the tech giant’s digital assistant service Alexa to F-150 trucks and other vehicles, Bloomberg reports.

Alexa will be deployed to around 700,000 this year, and could reach millions of vehicles in the years ahead under the six-year agreement.

Ford drivers will have three years of free services through Alexa, though not music streaming, through native implementation in vehicle’s dashboard systems. The report does not indicate if user authentication through voice biometrics is supported in the implementation.

Privacy and security issues arise

China has published draft rules that would bar automotive companies from transferring face biometrics and other user data collected by autonomous driving systems overseas, except with government approval, Nikkei Asia writes.

The Cyberspace Administration proposal follows the banning of Teslas from Chinese military bases on grounds that their sensors could inadvertently capture sensitive information.

Biometric data is increasingly used for authentication, as well as driver health and attention monitoring, Butzel Long Attorney and certified privacy professional Jennifer Dukarski tells Auto Futures that automakers and their technology providers must focus on consent and legitimate basis for data collection.

While not all captured health data triggers HIPAA compliance requirements, vehicular systems could entail HIPAA responsibilities, and an uneven landscape of regulations relative to biometrics in different U.S. States and in Europe could pose a liability challenge.

The conversation followed the GENIVI Alliance Virtual All Member Meeting 2021, at which the cybersecurity vulnerability of connected cars was discussed, along with biometrics and other threat protection measures.

Regulatory change, expanding scope present opportunities

A profile of Seeing Machines by Proactive Investors reports comments from its CEO that it has experienced growth during the first of 2021, as the market conditions for assisted driving technology improve.

Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate could see the Department of Transportation research driver inattention and driver monitoring systems (DMSs) to consider mandating their inclusion in new vehicles within the next four years, the report notes.

Seeing Machines shares are trading at around £10.6 (approximately US$14.90), after trading at half that amount in late-2020.

The proposed legislation specifies the biometric capabilities that DMS should have, including detecting driver distraction and disengagement, and would also prompt research into automation complacency by drivers and the potential for misuse of driver-assistance systems, according to Input.

The legislation comes after the latest fatal crash of a Tesla in Texas reportedly involved a vehicle with no-one in the driver’s seat.

Innovation in the biometric driver monitoring space is also continuing to draw in more applications, as Moment AI has developed software to keep motorists with epilepsy safe. The software uses captures driver behavior and physical characteristics to predict the onset of a seizure before it occurs.

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