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Hyundai has announced plans to introduce a new ‘digital key’ technology on future models, allowing drivers to unlock and start their car via a smartphone app. Selected models will start offering the technology during 2019 and will allow up to four authorized devices to have digital control over a single vehicle.
The system is believed to use highly secure near field communication (NFC) technology, with antennas fitted in the front door handles and in a wireless charging pad inside the car. Users unlock the car by bringing an authorized smartphone close to the door, then start the car by placing it on the charging pad and pressing the start/stop button.
Much like the memory seat settings currently found in certain models, the digital key will also recognize each user’s preferred settings, such as position of mirrors, seats and the steering wheel, as well as controls for the audio, video and navigation systems, and the head-up display.
When sharing the car, Hyundai owners will be able to limit the functions available for each digital key. This could include placing a time-limit for when the key will expire or setting an alert to warn the owner if the car is being driven too fast or is outside a designated area.
“This is a practical application of Hyundai’s connected vehicle technology to create new, genuinely useful functions,” said Mike Song, Hyundai’s Head of Operations for the Middle East and Africa. “Not only will people be able to use their smartphone in place of a key, but they will also be able to authorize other drivers simply by sharing the app, without having to keep track of multiple sets of car keys.”
As well as offering convenience for drivers, the new technology also recognizes the changing nature of mobility and car ownership, such as the growing popularity of car-sharing schemes. Once car-sharing becomes more widespread, the digital key will be further programmed to support hassle-free vehicle rental, so the owner and driver can share a key without needing to meet in person.