Uber’s secure selfies could pave the way for biometrics in the car

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Ride sharing service Uber is currently rolling out a new security feature dubbed Real-Time ID Check, asking drivers to share a selfie before going online, helping to ensure that the person wielding the phone matches the individual on file.

The new security system aims to ensure safety for riders by verifying that a driver is who they say they are. It also helps prevent fraud in the event that a driver’s Uber account has been compromised.

Uber’s secure selfies leverage technology from Microsoft’s Cognitive Services to compare the driver’s photo to one corresponding with the account on file. In the event that the photos don’t match, the driver’s account is temporarily suspended and Uber looks into the situation.

With early testing, Uber claims the Real-Time ID Check system has been both accurate and reliable, with mismatches mostly due to unclear profile photos. In the event that the photos did not match, 99 percent of drivers were ultimately verified and able to work.

Of course, secure identity verification behind the wheel has potential benefits that go far beyond Uber’s limited use case. In the future, smart cars could authorize drivers based on a facial or retinal scan, and vehicle owners could authorize other drivers without the need to have a spare set of keys. In that scenario, a vehicle that doesn’t recognize who is behind the wheel could simply not operate, making auto theft a thing of the past.

For now, Uber’s Real-Time ID Check is a start, showcasing how secure biometrics and user identification can be a benefit to companies, their employees, and their customers. Uber’s driver identity check is currently rolling out to cities across the U.S.

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