Since I’ve had an iPhone since 2007, I’m used to using biometric locks on my devices (and, yes, I’m still upset that Touch ID was discontinued). But a car? That is a unique situation. But here we are in 2022, with Genesis selling cars that can do without a key fob in favor of security that follows me everywhere I go because I am me.
The biometric keyless entry system on the 2023 Genesis GV60 uses well-known technology in an unfamiliar setting. Genesis enables GV60 owners to lock, unlock, and start their vehicle with a view of their face and fingerprint instead of using a conventional wireless key fob or a phone’s Bluetooth or NFC capabilities. The infotainment system in the GV60 is tied directly to individual user profiles, allowing two different people to store their biometric data for use. When one of them gets in, the infotainment system pulls up all of their pertinent settings, including favorite radio stations and seat positions. Even if the key is still inside, the car can still be locked.
The ease of setup is astounding. I simply need to create a new user profile from scratch and decide whether or not to add my biometric information after settling into the front seat of the GV60. It asks me to exit the car and stand in front of the door-mounted facial recognition camera, which illuminates to show me that it is functioning. I then get back in the car and, in a manner similar to how it was on the old iPhone, place my right pointer finger on the fingerprint reader several times in various positions. The car is now programmed to remember me, and that’s it.
It is even simpler to use. Then, I stand where the camera can see me as I approach the car and touch the door handle. A brief white ring spins for about four seconds before turning green and unlocking the doors. I can start the GV60 and shift it out of Park with just a quick tap on the fingerprint reader because it uses two-factor authentication. I’ve used it during the day, at night, and in a downpour, and it has always performed flawlessly. The anxiety I continue to experience when I check my pockets and don’t feel a key, however, cannot be fixed by any system.
Since most people are accustomed to carrying a key in their pocket, this may seem pointless to you, but I believe there are significant convenience advantages. Imagine you want to go swimming at the beach. Put everything inside the GV60 and let your face take care of locking the goods instead of leaving a key somewhere unattended or leaving the car unlocked. A dead phone won’t stop you from finishing your trip if you’re one of those people whose phone is always in the red battery range.
Naturally, this brings up some security issues. Not only must someone be willing to give their biometric information to yet another business, but it also needs to be handled in a way that makes drivers feel secure in the security of their data. The biometric information needed for this feature, according to a Genesis spokesperson, is encrypted and is only ever stored inside the vehicle. Even with their own internal diagnostic tools, the automaker cannot access the data, and the driver is always free to delete it from the vehicle. The cloud never enters the picture. Thus, there is no way for malicious actors to access that biometric data in any meaningful way short of a Face/Off scenario where losing a finger is also involved. Stealing a phone or a key is simpler.
Therefore, while using biometrics to unlock your car may require a small amount of faith, it is more convenient than setting up a phone to work as a key, pretty secure, and takes up less room in your pocket. Since the hardware needed will undoubtedly affect the car’s price and chips aren’t exactly easy to come by these days, I wouldn’t expect every automaker to follow Genesis’ lead, but using biometrics in place of a key is a clever addition that adds an extra allure for people who want to stay on the cutting edge of automotive technology.