The era of operating a car with a smartphone has come. Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors announced on Jan 4 that they have completed the development of a smartphone-based digital key and will sequentially apply it to new cars to be released in the future.
The smartphone-based digital key is a state-of-the-art technology that can unlock doors and start a vehicle using a smartphone. The technology utilizes near field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth low energy (BLE) communication between a smartphone and a car and has the same functions as the conventional smart key.
When the smartphone is in contact with the outer door handle of the driver or passenger seat, it can lock or unlock the door. Then, after placing the smartphone on the wireless charger inside the vehicle, the driver can start the car by pressing the start button. Even when the smartphone does not have wireless charging function, all services are available if it has NFC functions that support a digital key.
The digital key can be shared by up to 4 people. A joint user can download the digital key application to his or her smartphone and use it under the car owner's authorization. It is also possible to restrict sharing by specifying the period of time or functions for sharing. For example, the car owner can send a key that only opens the car trunk to the delivery man to load goods in the car or lend a car to a friend after setting the usage period of the digital key. Credit card-sized card keys and conventional smart keys are also provided for use at repair shops and other places. The company is also planning to add a function in which each digital key can be set up to send an alarm to the owner when the car speed exceeds a certain limit or the car goes outside a specified area.
The smartphone-based digital key is considered as a technology geared for the age of car sharing. Using this technology, the vehicle lender and the user can send and receive digital keys through a smartphone app without having to meet in person. In addition, the digital key will make car sharing more convenient as it allows application a personalization profile and parking location confirmation.
"The digital key technology is a first step toward connecting vehicles and smartphones. It is expected to greatly improve convenience in using cars," said a Hyundai Motor official. "We are working on applying various information and communication technologies (ICT), such as biometrics, as well as a variety of wireless communication technology such as Wi-Fi and ultra-wideband (UWB), to vehicle operation."