First, you can access your home with a smartphone and soon, you will be able to do the same with a car. Well, at least, you should be able to with the next-generation 2020 Hyundai Sonata which will make its U.S. debut at the New York International Auto Show, happening from April 19-29, 2019. Hyundai Motor Group has developed a Smartphone-base Digital Key that allows a vehicle to be unlocked, started, and driven – all without the need for a physical key.

After the Digital Key has been authenticated, the vehicle will adjust the settings automatically to the person based on the data stored in-vehicle. Everything from the position of the mirrors to the seats and steering wheel to the A/V systems will be adjusted to preference last set by the person. Hyundai said this technology is particularly suitable for car-sharing. Though, at this point, this Smartphone-based Digital Key only support up to four authorized person.

Hyundai Smartphone-based Digital Key

The Digital Key can be downloaded via an app on a mobile phone and using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, it detects the presence of an authorized Digital Key-enabled mobile phone in close proximity to the vehicle door. It’s almost like having your own subway turnstile. NFC is located in the handles of the driver and front passenger’s doors, as well as inside the wireless charging pad in the center console for starting the engine.

With the smartphone with Digital Key placed on the wireless charging pad, all you have to do is to press the engine Start/Stop button to start the vehicle. In addition to Near Field Communication, Hyundai’s Digital Key also uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communication to allow selected vehicle to be controlled remotely. Through BLE, you can do things like locking and unlocking the vehicle, activate the alarm and even starting the engine.

Hyundai Smartphone-based Digital Key

Hyundai said, when autonomous parking features become available, “such features are also expected to be remotely controlled.” Though it is not clear how that will work. Surely, it isn’t remote control the car to park, is it? Probably, just hit a key to get it to park while you are outside of the car.

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As with smart home locks, Digital Key also allows you to define the level of access to different vehicle functions for each user, such as preset the duration of vehicle use, preset alarm to be triggered if the vehicle exceeds a set speed or travels outside a preset area, and limit the use to certain features. It can even use to enable a courier to open the trunk to deliver a parcel, so it need not to be left at the porch. Suck it, porch pirates!

But you can’t just hand over the Digital Key to anyone and as such, conventional smart key and card type key will also be provided for times when the car need to be valet or leave at a workshop. Future development include transferring the Digital Key via a mobile phone app to rental person without having to physically meet up. Well, that, friends, is the future. While it is an exciting prospect, we can’t deny doing digital does give rise to a new set of security issues, namely, hacking.

All images courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group.

Published by Mike chua

Avid tech enthusiast, gadget lover, marketing critic and most importantly, love to reason and talk.