Biometrics is set to drive off

carOver the last several months, the use of biometrics has been adopted by law enforcement personnel, government agencies, healthcare organizations and the finance industry. Now consumer applications of biometrics that go beyond accessing your phone with your fingerprint or face are starting to appear. Using biometrics in this capacity may have significant impacts around making people’s lives easier and more efficient.

In December there was major news on this front after rental car giant Hertz announced it was partnering with biometric identity company Clear to use biometrics to speed up the car rental process. The new program, called Hertz Fast Lane Powered by Clear, is now available at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta and will be rolled out to more than 40 U.S. airports in 2019.

Here’s how it works: People pick up a car at the airport lot, drive to a specially marked exit gate, roll down their window and let CLEAR’s facial recognition technology match their face to their driver’s license on file to confirm their reservation. Next, the exit gate lifts and the customer can then drive off.  According to Hertz, the new system will allow car renters to get through the exit gate and on the road in 30 seconds or less – a time savings of about 75 percent. The previous exit gate process, which required presenting a physical ID to a security guard, took an average of about two minutes.

According to Hertz, Fast Lane is the first use of biometrics by a major rental car company. Hertz said using biometrics will improve the customer experience. While saving customers 90 seconds may not seem significant, a faster car rental process can help Hertz stand out from competitors and build brand loyalty. And with Hertz, a major car rental company, using biometrics, other businesses may follow suit, moving us closer to a future in which a person’s fingerprints, eyes or face is recognized as the most secure form of ID.

The Hertz news is not the only indicator that consumer biometric applications are increasing. Biometric payment cards have emerged in recent months while some companies have launched biometric technology for the auto industry and predicted that biometrics will reach car dashboards in the next two years.   

In fact, in December, Hyundai announced that it developed a fingerprint authentication system that includes sensors on the door handle for locking and unlocking, and another on the dashboard to start the engine. The system also automatically adjusts the driver’s seat and mirrors according to the person’s preferences. Hyundai said it plans to include the technology in Santa Fe models next year.

Elsewhere, Germany-based Osram Opto Semiconductors recently announced it developed a pair of infrared LEDs to enable iris and facial recognition for automotive applications, according to eeNews Europe. The company says the LEDs could be used to unlock doors, disable engine immobilizers and set personal preferences for different users of the same vehicle using iris or facial biometrics.

Biometrics is gaining momentum in the consumer space, and 2019 could be the year when biometrics plays a much bigger part of our everyday lives.