Using Fingerprints To Start A Vehicle, Ugandan Students Are To Blame


makerere fingerprint starting carKuwanza Gari, Swahili words meaning “to start the car”. A creative group consisting of nine students from Uganda’s Makerere University School of Computing and Informatics Technology have come up with a way to start cars with just fingerprints as a substitute to car keys.  Every individual in this world has a sole fingerprint and no two fingerprints are alike thus giving everyone a unique identity.

The main reason amongst others, for these ICT students to create a biometric solution to starting cars was to make stealing your car a little harder with a fingerprint ignition.

Students responsible for this innovation are; Mark Musinguzi, Ernest Ojakol, Michael Mawejje, Anxious Ainebyona, Dominic Walusimbi, Nicholas Kayola, Sheila Ankunda, Joseph Kitamirike and the ninth student is David Tusubira who is from the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology.

When installing, the car owner has to place a finger in the system to capture the print, and it is then stored on the fingerprints module. The module used on this system has two buttons: one is for adding prints while the other is for erasing the prints. The print erasing button is for when the owner is selling the car or perhaps wants to remove one of the authorised prints.

According to Ernest Ojakol “If a guy breaks up with his girlfriend, he can erase her print from the system,” he jokingly said, adding that; “The owner has to verify that he or she is adding or resetting prints, but the system can take up to five fingerprints, meaning that the owner can choose four other people who can drive the car.”

Innovative enough, the device operates a GSM (Global System for Mobile) module which sends an alert message to the owner’s mobile phone (as programmed) in the case that the wrong person tries to start the car.

Furthermore the team are in plans to introduce an additional protection of fingerprint entry when opening the car.

“We want to implement an alternative biometric system for ignition because some people lose their prints.” Ojakol added.

makerere fingerprint starting car 3For now, the system is powered by a laptop, which does not provide enough power, but the team plans to create a connection to the car battery’s power.

The project is a requirement for the completion of the Software Engineering programme. All students are supposed to investigate a problem and solve it using technology. The team will graduate in January 2016.