Hyundai Motor Group announced the development of a ‘Digital Key’ that allows users to unlock and start their vehicle through their smartphone. The new Digital Key replaces the traditional physical key, and can be downloaded via an app, and used by up to four authorised people. The Digital Key uses the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to detect the presence of an authorised cell phone in close proximity to the vehicle door. This Digital Key technology is expected to feature in new Hyundai and Kia vehicles beginning from later this year, the company noted.
The Hyundai Digital Key technology allows vehicles to be unlocked, started, and driven without a physical key. It also identifies users, with the vehicle adjusting settings automatically, this facilitating car-sharing. The NFC antenna for entry identification is located in the handles of the driver and front passenger’s doors, while 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.
Hyundai said the user’s preferred vehicle settings are stored in the vehicle. Once the key is recognised those settings are adjusted automatically – including position of mirrors, seats and the steering wheel, as well as controls for the audio, video and navigation systems and head-up display, it explained. The Digital Key can also be used to control selected vehicle systems remotely through the smartphone app. Users can lock and unlock the vehicle, activate the alarm and start the engine, using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communication. In addition, once the vehicles with autonomous parking features are commercialised, such features are also expected to be remotely controlled.
The level of access to different vehicle functions can be customised to each user, for a defined period, Hyundai observed. It said that vehicle owners can pre-set the duration of vehicle use or limit the use to only certain features when renting the vehicle. In the future, once car sharing becomes more widespread, the Digital Key will be further programmed. It can be 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.
Furthermore, as a future feature, the Digital Key will be further enhanced to allow for features such as an alarm trigger when the vehicle exceeds a defined speed or travels outside a designated area. In cases such as using a valet service or visiting a repair shop where handing over a digital key is not feasible, conventional smart key and card type key will also be provided.
Ho Yoo, Group Leader, Electronics Development Group, Hyundai Motor Group, said the Digital Key will benefit a wide range of future customers as well as enabling innovative new schemes for vehicle sharing. The company is studying other ways to harness this type of connected-car technology to greatly enhance the driving and ownership experience, he added.