A new class action lawsuit has accused automaker Subaru of violating an Illinois biometric privacy law. Subaru cars with the DriverFocus distracted driving accident prevention system scan drivers’ faces without express written consent, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit comes as research and development efforts focus on using biometric data to screen cars and deliver new types of in-cabin entertainment and information services.
The lawsuit, filed in Chicago, Ill., Alleges that Subaru’s DriverFocus system scans and stores facial geometry for up to five drivers, and that Subaru does not provide any information on how data is collected, stored and used for its customers. Failure to provide written permission to use customer data would be a violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), enacted in 2008.
Although the law has been in place for some time, it took some time for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to gain popularity. ADAS is a term used to describe any system to aid navigation, braking, or acceleration while you are driving your vehicle. ADAS can include features such as: lane departure warning systems, adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance system, emergency brake assist system, pedestrian detection and blind spot monitors. The current market offers a wide variety of ADAS options from different brands such as Tesla or Mercedes-Benz, among others, which have been designed to work in tandem or with other features such as automatic emergency braking.
In Subaru’s case, the lawsuit notes that the automaker began collecting and using biometric data in some models in 2019. Like other automakers, the system uses infrared sensors, but Subaru scans, captures and stores biometric identifiers – facial scan, in this case – of five different drivers and adjusts car features like mirrors and seats depending on which driver it detects.
The lawsuit raises interesting questions about the need for privacy and security of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). ADAS technologies use sensors to detect objects around a vehicle and warn drivers of potential collisions. As these systems become more and more mainstream, it is important to ensure that the data they collect is protected from hackers who could use it to gain access to a vehicle or its occupants. Privacy concerns are also raised by the increasing use of cameras and other sensors in vehicles, which could be used to track the movements of drivers or passengers.
As automakers take steps to ensure the protection of data collected by these systems, the market for ADAS systems and more advanced autonomous driving technologies could be affected by security breaches.
The Ceva sensor hub meets two security requirements
There are a number of regulatory standards regarding the safety of automotive systems. For example, Ceva, Inc., a provider of wireless connectivity and smart sensing technologies, recently announced that its SensPro DSP sensor hub meets two different Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) requirements for fault tolerance. Ceva’s technology is used to process data from multiple sensors, including cameras, radars and LIDARs, to facilitate autonomous navigation and ADAS systems. Ensuring the data integrity of hundreds of vehicle components will be necessary to ensure compliance with automotive safety requirements.
However, if the biometric data is transmitted from the vehicle to a cloud storage system, the applicable rules and regulations become a little less clear. Illinois law has been in place for years, but new regulations in California along with GDPR compliance in Europe are creating a murky legal landscape for biometric systems in cars.
Other recent developments show why the processing of biometric data will become increasingly critical.
In terms of new capabilities, individual developers and university researchers are working on technology that will allow cars to be controlled with hand and facial gestures. A recent open source project uses inexpensive Raspberry Pi hardware and computer vision to enable hand gestures to steer and stop a car. No word on what a gesture of the middle figure triggers (the horn, perhaps?). University researchers at the Advanced Mobility Institute at Florida Polytechnic University have taken delivery of a new vehicle with an electric driving system that can use facial recognition to steer the vehicle.
Cipia raises $ 22 million in IPO
Of course, there are significant revenues at stake as well. Companies like Cipia, a provider of automotive AI in-cabin computer vision solutions, are betting on increasing use of ADAS systems. The company has just raised $ 22 million in its initial public offering (IPO). Cipia will be listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) under the symbol CPIA.
Earlier this year, Smart Eye, a long-time supplier of automotive safety SAR systems, acquired a startup called Affectiva to add in-cabin âsensingâ capabilities of human activity. The deal was priced at $ 73.5 million for the shares of the Boston, MA-based startup.
One of Affectiva’s main services was to target ads based on viewers’ emotions read by facial expressions. These services could potentially be used in a vehicle. This is where facial recognition will also come into play as an authentication system for on-board payments, itself said to be a growing market.
A new study from Juniper Research has found that the global in-vehicle payment transaction volume will exceed 4.7 billion by 2026, up from just 87 million in 2021. In-vehicle payments are where payments are made through vehicle systems, without requiring the use of a smartphone to process the transaction.
The report suggests that vehicle refueling will be the most common use case for on-board payments over the next 5 years, accounting for around 48% of total on-board payment transactions by volume. However, additional use cases such as coffee and fast food pickup payments could also be enabled by biometric systems, including voice recognition.
automotive biometrics | biometrics | BIPA | Ceva | Cipia | computer vision technology | facial recognition | gesture recognition | Juniper Research | surveillance | payments | standards