Tech Watch: Rearview/Re-envisioned

Biometrics firm Fingerprint Cards and long-time automotive mirror supplier Gentex have teamed up to give the simple mirror the intelligence to scan irises. 

Considering just about all of the devices in the vehicle that are graduating with advanced degrees, the traditional rearview mirror is pretty much coasting by with a GED. 

Biometrics firm Fingerprint Cards and long-time automotive mirror supplier Gentex (gentex.com), have teamed up to give the simple mirror the intelligence to scan irises. Why? One reason is to authenticate the driver—much like your mobile phone is currently doing or will soon be doing— with facial recognition. The second reason is to use that authentication for a whole bunch of applications, such as personalizing the cabin to regular inhabitants of the car, tapping into cloud-based services or give permission for the driver to say, order something from Amazon. 

In a partnership announced at CES in January, the two companies say they want to bring rearview mirrors to market that are embedded with ActivieIRIS. That technology would create “multimode biometry,” which would enable OEMs to offer customizable features in varying vehicle trim packages, without the need for significant interior recalibration. 

The companies envision scenarios in which biometric systems scan the iris of someone who gets behind the wheel, only allowing the car to start if that person is authorized to drive. Validation would lead to customization, with the seats, music preferences, seat position and, yes, mirror placement, all adjusted for the individual.

Another place for such technology is inside vehicles bound for ride-hailing and other car-on-demand services to identify the driver, adding another layer of security.

While the first systems are likely to be found inside a Gentex automatic-dimming rearview mirror or related windscreen mount, future systems could be developed in various locations inside the vehicle as well as by tapping into the cloud.