Michigan-based automotive mirror specialist Gentex is looking to debut rearview mirrors that contain iris-scanning technology at CES in Las Vegas, according to the Detroit Free Press. We’re well on our way to a full-on Blade Runner 2049 kind of lifestyle.
The iris-scanning system will be able to identify each individual driver, given that irises are as unique as your DNA, and the rearview mirror is the ideal place for a system like that because nearly every driver glances behind them at least briefly before they hit the road.
The system will then be able to access your profile and recall your settings. As soon as you climb in, the car will be adjust your seat, climate control, mirror positions, and more to your personal preferences. The kind of stuff my mom raved about when she realized her new Nissan Armada had a way to save her seat position setting so she wouldn’t be totally thrown for a loop after my stepdad was behind the wheel.
But this is the information age, folks. If you think an iris-scanner is going to limit itself to ergonomic settings, you’ve got another thing coming.
Gentex chief technology officer Neil Boehm notes that the mirrors will also be able to recall your internet transactions for things like gasoline and lodging. Your car will remember where you got gas and how much you paid. That’s the part that kind of creeps me out.
But things get even weirder. Iris scans may even be developed to control the drivers who get behind the wheel. So, for example, your new teen driver can have parent-set limits on how fast they can drive. The system will recognize valets and won’t enable them to take your car for a joy ride—which seems to imply that your information will be stored somewhere larger than just your personal vehicle, to be accessed in any car with a Gentex mirror. There’s also the practical side of things: if your iris isn’t one of those on file as an authorized driver of the vehicle in question, it won’t start, and you won’t be able to drive off in it.
If you’re thinking, “that sounds like a hell of a lot of work,” you would be correct. Gentex predicts that their iris recognition systems are still probably four to five years from sale. The company is looking to make the rearview mirror tech a cohesive part of the entire vehicle’s engineering—otherwise, that iris scan won’t be able to do much of what it’s predicted to do.
Given that the freedom of driving is a massive part of its appeal (our motto here at Jalopnik is, after all, “drive free or die”), I’m predicting that there’s going to be plenty of backlash. While teen safety, ergonomic comfort, and the prevention of unknown drivers from taking a joy ride are features plenty of folks can get behind, that whole “my car knows everything about me and where I go” thing is, well, pretty damn creepy.