If you're prone to losing car keys, the latest-generation Hyundai Santa Fe just going on sale in China is for you.
It offers buyers the option of using a fingerprint detector that can open the vehicle and turn on its engine, rendering car keys as necessary as a landline. Touch one of the SUV's biometric sensors and it will even adjust such things as seat position and sideview mirrors to the settings preferred by individual drivers in its database.
The oldest known locks were found in the ruins of the ancient Syrian capital of Nineveh and date back thousands and thousands of years. Today, keys are an accessory to just about everything we do, giving us access to our homes, offices, gym lockers and, of course, our cars. For motorists, however, keys could soon go the way of the crank starter, rumble seat and running board.
It's already rare to find a car that still uses a conventional metal key. They've largely been replaced by wireless key fobs on all but a handful of base models. But manufacturers are looking at a variety of alternative technologies, much like those replacing traditional keys in homes and workplaces — and, of course, to unlock smartphones, where biometric sensors let users forget those complicated and often forgettable passcodes.