Mobile phones are slowly but surely becoming the center of our lives. They wake us up, make communication easier, bring fun, offer a lot of information at your fingertips, and we can even pay for it as a traditional credit card. They gradually integrate more and more features and may soon replace classic car keys.
These keys are no longer the real keys – they are larger or smaller boxes with a few buttons and a transmitter. They’re great when you want to boast a friend in a pub (if you have something), but otherwise it is an unnecessary thing that just pushes in your pocket (you don’t even have to remove it when you unlock and lock your car) pocket to keep you from pushing, it’s not often where to put it off. How about getting rid of her?
We already carry one such big thing in our pocket – a mobile phone. Today’s clever devices can do a lot of things, and the integration of the car key is directly available. Finally, your mobile phone is more and more connected to the car. Immediately after starting, it will automatically connect via Bluetooth for more convenient calling and listening to music, while you can charge it wirelessly while driving, or use your favorite apps via the Android Auto or Apple CarPlay via cable.
In addition to connecting the infotainment with the most up-to-date data (traffic info for navigation, gasoline prices, parking spaces, music streaming, etc.), connecting cars to the Internet has also enabled remote access via mobile applications. So you can easily find out how much fuel you have left from the comfort of your home, if you have not forgotten to lock your doors (you can even unlock and lock them remotely) or where you have parked, you can remotely switch on an auxiliary heater or send a scheduled route to navigation . The possibilities are countless and grow with each day.
Something similar has already been tried by BMW with its smart key – it had a display that displayed information about the car, even with it you could also start the car and drive it out of the tight parking space to get in comfort. But isn’t that key unnecessary when you have a phone with much wider use?
The automotive industry has prepared another innovation – a car key integrated in the mobile application. It’s easy to use: just come to a car that senses (with a Bluetooth Low Energy connection) a phone with a key application installed within a few meters (about ten) and unlocks when you press the handle. This is how the whole system works with the Tesla Model 3, where this innovation was first introduced across the board.
The benefits are obvious – you have one unnecessary thing in your pockets less. In addition, the car key can be easily lost (or broken) and its replacement is quite expensive. The risk of theft with the key signal amplifier, which is so widespread today and still fail to prevent it, is also falling. In addition, the number of users of your car is strictly limited by the number of physical keys, and if you want to give someone access to your car, you have to hand it over to them, which can create complicated logistical problems in larger families (or businesses). This is how it would be enough to give someone a key through a remote application. Easy!
But the security risks are still high – the key in the phone can be stolen not only physically and with the phone, but also digitally hacked online on the device. Then there is the uncertainty of 100% compatibility on various updates or complications when the phone’s battery is low (Tesla solves it with a backup chip card). In addition, the key life is much longer than phones and mobile applications, so the question is how would you unlock today’s keyfob today in twenty years …
For this reason, traditional car manufacturers are still hesitant and are undergoing research and rigorous testing. However, premium manufacturers are already making this alternative, and now Hyundai will take it to their Sonata model… who’s next? Will it be an avalanche of implementations across the automotive industry, or will it just be a blind path of development? It will be decisive whether the benefits of a car key in a mobile phone outweigh the risks associated with it. And yet we find that not…