No surprise, the Tokyo Motor Show is ripe with technology innovations. This time the it's the Hitachi Finger Vein Authentication Steering Wheel System that caught my eye. This biometric system goes way beyond the enhancement of vehicle security – not only does it provide driver verification in a fraction of a second just by gripping the steering wheel, it also paves the way for authorization of automatic payment in drive-thrus or for music downloads to increasingly sophisticated networked car audio systems. Nice.
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Different functions can also be assigned to each finger meaning it can double as a switch – one finger could control the drivers preferences (seat temperature, mirror position, air-conditioning, etc.),  while another could be used for other "favourites," like navigation or audio systems. Leaving your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.

Hitachi has been developing finger vein biometric authentication systems since 1997 and unveiled a grip-type technology for car door handles in 2005. The system uses the finger vein pattern obtained from passing light through a finger as a key, but in the most recent version, the system has been made more compact and the area scanned had been changed from the finger surface to the side of the finger.

Hitachi’s finger vein authentication steering wheel system is currently on show at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show and the company plans to continue the development of the technology for numerous applications beyond the automotive sector including office admission control, PC log-in and bank ATM’s.

Click here to learn more about Hitachi's Finger Vein Authentication Technology.