Mercedes to secure in-car payments with biometrics

The new Mercedes S-Class will come with fingerprint, voice and optional face biometrics integrated into its infotainment system, enabling “verification of digital payment processes from the vehicle”, the luxury car maker has announced.

The driver’s dashboard display will come with a built-in fingerprint sensor and “is optionally available with two cameras,” Mercedes says.

Mercedes also announced an update to its MBUX infotainment system that includes improved voice controls, new features to its heads-up display (HUD) navigation system, and multimodal biometric authentication for added security.

The improved voice recognition control will take over some functions previously handled by physical buttons, as well as having better natural language processing capabilities that will be able to handle general inquiries in 27 languages.

Passengers in the rear of the vehicle will also be able to take advantage of the voice controls with the help of two microphones in the back — in addition to the two in the front — that can recognize the “Hey Mercedes” hot words.

The new HUD features Augmented Reality-powered navigation, with arrows that pop up in the driver’s line of sight telling them where to turn; and passengers in the rear of the vehicle are able to send navigation instruction to the driver using screens mounted on the back of the front seat headrests.

The infotainment screen is a 12.8-inch OLED panel, that aside from controlling nearly every aspect of the car by replacing 27 physical keys found in previous S-class models, also features biometric authentication.

When drivers want to log into the Mercedes Me app to make a purchase, they will now have the option to sign in using biometrics rather than the traditional PIN method. The display features a fingerprint sensor, though should they choose the driver also has the option of using the two cameras found in the S-class for facial recognition, or even their voice to log into their account.

The added security is meant to prevent unauthorized individuals from making purchases in the Mercedes Me store when using a vehicle belonging to someone else.

Voice assistant “Hey Mercedes”: Conventional voice control systems in cars call for certain fixed commands from their users. Because it understands natural language, “Hey Mercedes” listens to almost every word and understands practically any sentence relating to infotainment sector and vehicle operation in 27 languages. Indirect speech is also recognized, for instance if the user says “I am cold” instead of the clear command “Set temperature in footwell to 72 degrees” in order to operate the climate control for the footwell. The voice control is also capable of learning. The system is able to tune into the user and their voice and also showcases improved understanding of non-native speakers. Additionally, the software models on the server are able to learn new buzzwords or can change use of language with time. The system no longer answers stereotypically, but varies in the dialogue output. The fundamental way the language assistant operates: the voice input is freed from background noises, compressed and transmitted. Both the head unit in the vehicle and the server evaluate the data and send a reply. The system decides which reply is the most likely, then within a few seconds the reply/reaction follows. This means that the voice assistant also answers if there is no connectivity.


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