With personalization becoming more trendy in almost all industries, biometric authentication has been seeing increasing use for user identification. Automobiles are no exception to this trend. The GV70, Genesis’s luxury mid-size SUV awaiting release, just became the brand’s pioneering fingerprint-reading car. The fingerprints work conveniently with Genesis Carpay, as well as turning on the ignition and other personalized features, making the user experience of this “smart” vehicle smarter than ever.
Particularly deserving emphasis is the fingerprint-reading Carpay feature―the world’s first of its kind. Just like any pay service does on a smartphone, Genesis Carpay can turn the complicated transaction process into laying of a finger on the fingerprint reader. We interviewed the research engineers responsible for this technology’s development to delve deeper into the specifics.
Q. There is more than one way in which a fingerprint reader works. What’s the GV70’s mechanism?
Senior Research Engineer Song Dong-June: Fingerprint readers largely come in three forms: capacitative (which traces the differences in the capacitor charge across the fingerprint’s ridges and valleys to map the fingerprint), optical, and ultrasonic. Each method has its pros and cons, but we opted for the capacitative reader for the GV70. It has the fastest scanning speed and is quite stable in recognition performance, and these features mattered for a convenience device that would see frequent use.
Q. Fingerprint recognition technology was applied to the Chinese Version of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Shengda, in late 2018. Is there any difference between that technology and the GV70’s?
Senior Research Engineer Kim Jeong-Tae: Shengda drivers could use fingerprints to enter and start the car. The fingerprints were also associated with certain personalization features to make them more convenient. The GV70’s distinct characteristic with respect to fingerprints is that they work in sync with the infotainment system in general, further adding to the convenience. Carpay―which uses connected car technology to allow easy in-car transactions―now works with fingerprints, which is a huge development. And the existing uses for fingerprints, such as the valet mode and starting the car, were made more convenient through biometric authentication.
Q. What are some of the technologies applied to increase the scanning success rate and response speed?
Song Dong-June: Given the nature of biometric authentication, registering clean and evenly weighted fingerprints from the beginning is the key to high success rates―but of course, the registered fingerprint and the fingerprint at the time of use can differ, depending on the time of day, the environment, and even driver habits. With this in mind, we developed a machine-learning-based technology that analyzes the registered fingerprints and learns from the correct scans (and its associated usage and environment patterns) to increase the successful scan rate over time.
Q. What’s the difference in technology compared to mobile fingerprint readers?
Song Dong-June: Existing fingerprint readers were developed for mobile devices, and they did not pass the quality reliability standards of an automobile. We looked to secure a highly reliable sensor quality for in-vehicle use and, in the process, even ended up obtaining an AEC-Q100 (global standard stress qualification for integrated circuits) certification.
Q. From the security standpoint (such as vehicle theft from fingerprint hacking), can the technology be considered secure?
Fingerprint data on FPM (FingerPrint Module) are not stored as images. Distinctive features of the original image are hashed into codes, which cannot be decoded without the proper keys. And even if the decoding is successful, the codes cannot be regenerated into fingerprint images. False Acceptance Rate (FAR), which is the probability of conflating the wrong fingerprint with the registered one, is extremely low. In short, there’s not much to worry about. I mean, fingerprints are already being used for high-stakes businesses like banking. And we do our part to regularly evaluate the system security to ensure the safety of our users.
Q. What are the advantages of FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) being applied to Carpay?
Senior Research Engineer Lee Sang-Jun: fingerprint readers with FIDO technology allow transactions at a literal touch of a fingerprint on the module, which precludes possibilities of password theft or personal info breach. As long as the card info and the fingerprint registration are completed ahead of time, you can conveniently pay in the car within seconds. And of course, other personalization features like seat locations can be recalled with a simple fingerprint scan, which is obviously convenient.
Q. Are fingerprints really safer than traditional Carpay authorizations like PIN codes?
Lee Sang-Jun: fingerprint transactions undergo two rounds of checks, one with the FIDO-certified affiliates and then another with the credit card company, so yes, I would say it is safer. Incidentally, the fingerprint data is stored only on the fingerprint sensor in the car, effectively preventing data leaks.
Q. If fingerprints wear off and/or scans fail repeatedly, how can the driver get authorization?
If fingerprint scans are for whatever reason inconvenient or impossible, PIN codes still exist as an alternative. The driver can adjust the settings for every service and switch between fingerprints and PIN codes as the default method. That is to say, if fingerprints are not registered, PIN codes can be used; even when fingerprints are registered, PIN codes can still be used for all relevant services. The only exception is starting the car―due to concerns of theft and safety, the only acceptable alternatives for fingerprints here are the existing smart key and the digital key.
Q. What are some advantages of using Carpay with fingerprints?
Lee Sang-Jun: The security of verifying identity through fingerprints allows the integration of multiple pay-related services. For example, fingerprint-reading Carpay allows various membership cards and reward points to be seamlessly integrated with the transaction. Indeed, during the system’s development, our goal was to turn all the steps of a transaction into a single click. In the past, the driver would have had to present a credit card, a membership discount card, and a reward points card separately; the driver with a FIDO-based infotainment system can just put his finger onto the scanner to do all that―as long as, of course, the info has been put in ahead of time.
Q. In your opinion, what is the correlation between the commercialization of biometric authentication and vehicle personalization technology?
Kim Jeong-Tae: Biometric authentication is the fastest and the most precise way to verify the user. Right now, it is being used for entering and starting the vehicle, personal profile log-ins, and connected car services like Carpay, all contributing to enhanced user experiences. But automobile personalization isn’t limited to our traditional definition of a car as a transportation mechanism―it can be applied to situations outside of driving and even in locations outside of the vehicle. Biometric authentication will evolve alongside this trend to provide a more diverse range of such personalized services.
Photos by Lim Keun-Jae