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Could keys soon be replaced by our smartphones?

Could keys soon be replaced by our smartphones?

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Some automakers have offered keyless entry and ignition for years but you have still needed the key somewhere on your person for it to work. That is going to change with a new digital key system currently being offered.

The Car Connectivity Consortium, featuring Apple, Samsung, LG, Audi, BMW, General Motors, Hyundai, Volkswagen and other interested parties have come up with a standard for digital car keys. Using NFC, Near Field Technology, a feature of smartphones that use proximity sensors to enable certain apps, the system will soon be opening and starting our cars if this group has its way.

Tesla owners can already use an app instead of a key to unlock and start the Model S, Model X and Model 3. Other automakers have been toying with a system too but this is the first time a standard has been offered and adopted, at least by some automakers.

The Car Connectivity Consortium said the new smartphone system provides ‘the highest state-of-the-art security level for vehicle access.’

Keyless entry
This move was inevitable. We use our phones for everything else so why not our cars too? The use of NFC should negate fears over scanning and hacking signals as the range of very limited. It has a range of only a few inches, so would be very hard to intercept. However, the app will be freely available through app stores so hackers will have all the time in the world to work their magic.

On the one hand, this is a logical evolution in car technology. We order and pay for things with our phones already so opening our car is only a small step. But what happens if our phone battery runs out or the app won’t work? What happens when the app is updated and a bug is introduced and nobody can open their cars? The number of apps updated and had bugs introduced is huge, so it isn’t so far-fetched.

On the other hand, we all keep our phones on us all the time. Now biometrics are a common feature, they are more secure than ever before. Certainly more secure than a key. Have your pocket picked and any criminal can access your car with a key. If you fingerprint or faceprint your phone, they will have a much harder time opening it.

I can see both sides of this and I think I sit in favour of this. On the proviso that security is top notch and insurance companies and vehicle warranties are modified to take them into account, I would use one. How about you?

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