As an iPhone owner since 2007, I'm no stranger to using biometric locks on my devices (and yes, I'm still mad about Touch ID going away). But a car? That's a different story. And yet, here we are in 2022, where Genesis sells a vehicle that can ditch a key fob in favor of security that follows me everywhere I go -- because it's me.
The 2023 Genesis GV60's biometric keyless access is an application of familiar tech in an unfamiliar location. Instead of using a traditional wireless key fob, or using a phone's Bluetooth or NFC capabilities, Genesis allows GV60 owners to lock, unlock and start their vehicle with a view of their face and fingerprint. It's tied directly to individual user profiles in the GV60, so two different people can store their biometric data for use, and when that person hops in, the infotainment system pulls up all their relevant settings, whether it's radio favorites or seat positions. It can even lock the vehicle while the key remains inside.
Setting it up is staggeringly easy. Sliding into the GV60's front seat, all I have to do is build a new user profile from scratch and choose whether or not I want to add my biometric data. It has me step outside the vehicle and stand in front of the facial-recognition camera between the doors, which lights up to let me know it's working. Then, I hop back in the car and place my right pointer finger on the fingerprint reader a few times in different orientations, just like how it used to be on the iPhone. And that's it, the car is set up to remember me.
Using it is even easier. I walk up to the car, touch the door handle and stand where the camera can see me. A little white ring spins for maybe 4 seconds, then it turns green and the doors unlock. Since it's two-factor authentication, a quick press on the fingerprint reader lets me start the GV60 and shift it out of Park. I've tried it during the day, at night and in a rainstorm, and it's worked flawlessly in every situation. However, there is no system to fix the anxiety I still have when I do a pocket check and don't feel a key.
This might seem useless to you, since most people are used to having a key in their pocket, but I think there are some big convenience benefits here. Let's say you want to head to the beach and go swimming. Instead of leaving a key unattended somewhere or leaving the vehicle unlocked, you can slap it all inside the GV60 and let your face take care of securing the goods. If you're one of those people whose phone is constantly in the red battery range, a dead phone won't stop you from completing your journey.
Of course, this raises some security concerns. Not only must a person be willing to fork over biometric data to yet another company, it has to be handled in such a way that drivers feel secure that their information won't become compromised. According to a Genesis spokesperson, the biometric data required for this feature is only ever stored within the vehicle, and it's encrypted. The automaker itself has no way to access the data, even with their own in-house diagnostic tools, and the driver can wipe it from the car whenever they want. The cloud never gets involved. Thus, short of some sort of Face/Off situation that also involves losing a finger, there's no way malicious actors can access that biometric data in any appreciable fashion. It's easier to steal a key or a phone.
So while it may take a small leap of faith to commit to using biometrics to access your car, it's easier to use than configuring a phone to work as a key, it's pretty darn secure and it saves pocket space. I wouldn't expect every automaker to follow in Genesis' footsteps, since the hardware required will certainly affect the car's price -- and chips aren't exactly falling off trees these days -- but using biometrics in place of a key is a clever addition that adds an extra appeal for people who want to stay on the cutting edge of car tech.