Forget fingerprinting, iris scanning and face recognition — soon, your car may know you by a more, ahem, dominant feature: your backside.

Research over the past year at the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology in Tokyo is offering hope that car-seat sensors may be available as an anti-theft measure for passenger cars in two to three years, according to TechCrunch.

Apparently, the way you sit is akin to a fingerprint, so you would be able to start your car simply by sitting in the driver’s seat.

The experimental bucket car seat is fitted with 360 sensors, which measure applied pressure to generate a 3-D image of weight distribution, Mobile Mag reported. Each sensor is able to measure downward force on a scale of 0 through 256, and the resulting stored data map is 98% accurate in experiments, says InventorSpot.com.

The success of the project depends on carmakers getting on board with the research, according to Physorg.com. “The car-seat team led by associate professor Shigeomi Koshimizu wants to commercialize their work as an anti-theft product … if automakers agree to collaborate.”

The researchers say traditional biometric security techniques, such as iris scanners and fingerprint readers, are stressful for users, whereas simply sitting down carries less psychological baggage. Technologies such as fingerprint scanning can also be compromised by dirt or debris on the sensor. Post continues below.

Koshimizu foresees several other uses for the seat sensors, says InventorSpot.com: “For example, office workers and home computer users may someday log into their computers simply by sitting down at their desks.”


Will it work in the real world?

Online skeptics abound, with commenters criticizing everything from the 98% effectiveness (“does 98% = 1/50 days error for 1 user, or 0 errors for 49 people, 1 person never recognized?” queried TechCrunch reader “John Kucera”) to the impracticality of being unable to loan a car to a friend or family member.

 

And what if you gain weight or carry a wallet in your pocket? (“My butt changed a lot these past 4 years making babies. Take that into account guys,” posted TechCrunch reader “Yoo Dekker-Lee.”)

 

Some readers, however, see future opportunities beyond even those imagined by the research team.

 

“Now that I think about it, this would be a great diet aid,” Physorg.com reader “isaacsname” commented. “‘I’m sorry, you’ve exceeded the allowable weight for this vehicle’s seat, today you’ll be walking to work.'”

 

Given that researchers don’t expect the seat scanners to be commercially available before 2014 at the earliest, one can only assume they’ll work out some of the bugs by then.


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