Some people are prone to losing their car keys. Some to losing their smartphones.
A technology being pioneered by Hyundai turns a cellphone into a car key, giving those people a chance to lose both at once, but making life a lot easier for everyone else.
Hyundai Motor Group says Digital Key will let consumers unlock and start Hyundai and Kia vehicles with their mobile phones. Drivers will be able to ditch their clunky key fobs thanks to an app. It uses near-field communication to communicate with an antenna inside the car.
Swish the phone by an antenna in the front door handle, and the door unlocks. Set the phone by the antenna near the center console's wireless charging pad, and you're ready to press ignition. The Digital Key also stores the driver's user settings and adjusts the mirrors, seats, steering wheel and audio system.
Hyundai's system debuted in March in the next-generation Hyundai Sonata sedan.
Hyundai says it developed the system in-house using components from global suppliers it declined to identify. Meanwhile, German supplier Robert Bosch has developed a similar offering, and short-term car rental company Zipcar is allowing customers to use mobile phones to unlock vehicles they have reserved for a ride.
"The Digital Key will benefit a very wide range of future Hyundai customers, as well as enabling innovative new schemes for vehicle sharing," said Ho Yoo, group leader of Hyundai Motor Group's Electronics Development Group. "We are studying other ways to harness this type of connected-car technology to greatly enhance the driving and ownership experience."