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No key? New Hyundai SUV lets drivers use fingerprints instead

December 28, 2018
Smart keys, it appears, are so 2018. Beginning in 2019, Hyundai will sell cars that drivers can unlock and turn on with the touch of a finger.
The carmaker unveiled the new Santa Fe SUV at a Chinese auto show on Dec. 14, and its new fingerprint technology allows consumers to do more than open doors.
Hyundai said that multiple owners will be able to register their encrypted fingerprint data on a car and also record certain driving preferences, according to Engadget, a multilingual technology blog network that covers gadgets and consumer electronics. 
The vehicle, which will be limited to the Chinese upon its first-quarter launch, will also adjust mirror angles and seat positions based on who opens its door. Eventually, Hyundai hopes that it will be able to automatically customize temperature, steering preferences, and more.
Synaptics, a San Jose-based company known for creating touch technology for the original iPod’s click wheel as well as touch sensors for many current Android phones, recently told AutoWeek magazine that it was eager to begin bringing this technology to cars.
"Fingerprint sensors can also act as navigation devices to control menus on a heads-up display or instrument cluster," the company told the publication.
Although this is the first car to offer a fingerprint reader that’s built into a door’s handle or ignition button, Engadget noted that the Tesla Model 3 does allow drivers to start their cars with a smartphone-enabled fingerprint scan.
Of course this technology could come with risks. New research by New York University and Michigan State University, for example, found that artificial intelligence can create fake digital fingerprints that are able trick phone fingerprint scanners — the key to everything from app store purchases to bank account information.
Still, Hyundai claims that its fingerprint technology has an error rate of 1 in 50,000, which is identical to Apple’s error rate per finger on its touch technology. Considering that motor vehicles were stolen at a rate of 236.9 per 100,000 in 2016, fingerprint technology is a risk that people probably will be willing to take.