Ford wants to secure your wheels with voice-coded locking nuts

30 January 2020 - 17:00 By AFP Relaxnews
Ford has created locking wheel nuts with grooves based on a person's voice.
Ford has created locking wheel nuts with grooves based on a person's voice.
Image: Supplied

Ford has developed a unique method of securing car wheels to keep thieves away: 3D-printed locking wheel nuts, with grooves based on the driver's voice.

Biometric identification isn't just a security tool for smartphones, laptops, and other digital hardware; turns out, this type of ID also has non-technological applications to keep people's belongings safe. Ford, for example, announced that it can 3D print locking wheel nuts with contours based on the vehicle owner's voice.

With the help of EOS, a German 3D printing manufacturer, Ford developed these nuts with biometric IDs as unique as an iris scan or fingerprint. To do so, engineers record an individual's voice for at least one second and “convert that singular sound wave into a physical, printable pattern”. This design can then be used to create the locking nut's groove pattern and corresponding key, both of which are 3D printed using acid and stainless steel.

Because the pattern is based on biometric information, the nut and key are 3D printed with ribs of differing sizes, and the indentations get wider as they get deeper, it's nearly impossible to clone either component - even with wax.

These locks are just the latest creations by Ford made with 3D printing. The same technology has been previously used by the company to make various car parts, assembly line tools and safety equipment.