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R.I.P car keys:  New Hyundai tech lets you use your phone

05 Mar 2019

As smartphones continue to take over the world, Hyundai has come up with an app to kill off another long-established item - your car keys.

The company has announced the development of a ‘Digital Key’, which allows users to unlock and start their Hyundai with just their smartphone. So you chuck your keys away, as the Digital Key can simply be downloaded via an app and used by up to four authorised people.

Using the app, Near Field Communication (NFC) technology detects the presence of an authorised Digital Key-enabled cellphone in close proximity to the vehicle door. The NFC antenna for entry identification is located in the handles of the driver and front passenger's doors, whilst one for starting the engine is located within the wireless charging pad.

After unlocking the vehicle, the user can start the engine by placing the smartphone on the wireless charging pad in the centre console and pressing an engine Start/Stop button on the dashboard.

Another long-established practice is having to adjust everything when someone else has been driving your car. Well, that’s been killed off too, as the app recognises your individual settings and adjusts them automatically when you ‘check-in’. This includes the position of mirrors, seats and the steering wheel, as well as controls for the audio, video and navigation (AVN) systems and head-up display.

Hyundai's Digital Key can be used to control selected vehicle systems remotely via their smartphone. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communication, users can lock and unlock the vehicle, activate the alarm and start the engine. In addition, once the vehicles with autonomous parking features are commercialised, such features are also expected to be remotely controlled.

And it doesn’t stop there, as Hyundai’s technology also opens up new avenues with renting or ride sharing, among other things.. The level of access to different vehicle functions can be tailored to each user, for a defined period. The vehicle owner can preset the duration of vehicle use or limit the use to only certain features when renting the vehicle - it can even be used to enable a courier to open the trunk to deliver a parcel.

Once car sharing becomes more widespread, the Digital Key will be further programmed to support hassle free vehicle rental where the owner and the driver won't have to meet but can transfer the Digital Key via the cell phone application.

As well as making it much easier for a Hyundai vehicle to be included in a car-sharing program, in the future, the Digital Key will be further enhanced to allow for features such as an alarm to be triggered when the vehicle exceeds a defined speed or travels outside a designated area.

Hyundai Motor Group aims to gradually implement the technology in its new production cars, starting with next generation Sonata.

"The Digital Key will benefit a very wide range of future Hyundai customers, as well as enabling innovative new schemes for vehicle sharing," says Hyundai Motor Group Electronics Development Group leader Ho Yoo.

"We are studying other ways to harness this type of connected-car technology to greatly enhance the driving and ownership experience."

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