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Finger flicking good - digital car ignition

Starting a car could soon require just a quick tickle of the steering wheel.

Next time you leave the house to drive to the corner shop just be sure to bring along the one thing Hitachi reckons you'll be using instead of a key to start the car - your index finger.

The company's finger-vein biometric technology has been around for a while, most notably in Japanese banks, but the latest attempt to expand the identity-authentication technology goes public this week at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Fingering favourites

Hitachi already has a far simpler system that works as a key to open car doors, but the update, which uses a reader embedded in the steering wheel, goes much further.

Aside from acting as an ignition key, each driver's finger can be linked to their own preferences for seat position, mirror angles and so on. Additionally, Hitachi reckons a driver's different fingers could be used to adjust different aspects of the car - middle finger to switch on the GPS, little finger for the air-con and the like.

If companies as influential as the major car makers show interest in the new biometric system, it's surely only a matter of time before it spreads considerably further than banks and car steering wheels.