Hyundai has committed to becoming the world’s first auto manufacturer to ship cars that open and start without any keys or smartphones whatsoever. The 2019 Santa Fe SUV will use fingerprint sensors for its door locks and ignition.
The fingerprint sensors will sit in the car’s door handles and in the start button on the dash. Touching either will switch the car to your personal profile, adjusting the seats, side mirrors and connectivity settings to your preferences. In the future, this will extend to include cabin temperature, steering column position and other personal adjustments.
The system uses capacitive sensors, and boasts a 1 in 50,000 chance of misreading somebody else’s fingerprints as your own. Mind you, my phone’s fingerprint sensors fail to recognize me after I hop out of the shower, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see how these things go in the wet. Hyundai says the system will continually improve its accuracy over time, refining its model of your fingerprints every time you use it.
A technology has to be very mature before auto manufacturers will build it in, particularly to replace such a critical component as the key or key fob. So you can take this news as a ringing endorsement that the fingerprint sensor has come of age. Hyundai’s press release doesn’t say what additional entry methods will be available as backups, but you can assume there’s a key fob or smartphone option as well. Letting your friends drive it would be a pain in the butt otherwise.
But it certainly seems possible that the days of losing your car keys may be numbered. Or to put it another way, if you lose the keys to a 2019 Santa Fe, the car will be the least of your problems!