After website passwords, now cars all set to go keyless

No! We are not referring to the keyless entry that Indian automakers are claiming as a unique feature to market their products. Because even though one doesn’t require a physical key to enter or start one’s car, there is still a need of a remote-control device that sits in the driver’s pocket and thereafter inside the car to allow it to start and move.

Korean carmaker Hyundai is currently testing smartphone-based digital keys for its cars, and if published reports are any indicator, these could become a reality as early as the third quarter of the current year. Both Hyundai and KIA vehicles could be using the smartphone to enter the vehicle and to activate it as well.

So, how does this thing work? Quite simply it uses near-field communication and Bluetooth to perform various functions within the vehicle. This digital key may be downloaded through an application and after authentication, used for several activities within the car besides helping the owner with tracking and managing the maintenance schedules as well as recording the functioning of the mechanical and electronic parts of the vehicle.

Functioning on the near-field communication, which enable two electronic devices to establish communication when they are within a pre-defined distance from each other, these digital keys would unlock the vehicle when it detects the presence of an authorised smartphone close by.

Not only is the system advanced and safe, the fact that the wireless data transfer happens only within a prescribed distance means that the possibility of vehicle theft reduces substantially. In addition, the vehicle will rev up only when the smartphone is placed on a wireless pad and the driver uses the start/stop button thereafter.

The digital key can be programmed to work on up to four smartphones with data being associated to four different people including things like seating position, steering position, seat position, mirror positions, displays and infotainment settings being stored within the digital key itself. So, depending upon which of the four persons is opening the vehicle, the settings would change automatically.

In addition, the same application can be used to control several functions such as remotely locking and opening the car, starting the engine, activating and deactivating the alarm. Cars that come with autonomous parking features can be controlled by the digital lock as well- officials at Hyundai claim that this feature may take some time to be commercially manufactured and used in their vehicles, though.

The master owner of the digital lock, the person whose identity is considered as the primary one for the vehicle, will also be able to restrict access of different functions to the rest of the digital key co-owners, or alternatively can set the duration of the vehicle usage in case it is being rented out or handed over to family members.

Now all that remains is for the cellphone to also drive the car!

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