Auto theft experts say that a rising number of drivers leaving their key fobs inside their vehicles is leading to increased rates of auto theft.
So maybe the best solution is to eliminate the key altogether.
Hyundai announced Monday that it is introducing a “Digital Key” that “allows users to unlock and start their Hyundai vehicle via their smartphone.”
The system can be programmed to work with up to four phones. It will use near-field communication (NFC) technology to detect whether the approved phone is close to the vehicle’s door.
“After unlocking the vehicle, the user can start the engine by placing the smartphone on the wireless charging pad in the center console and pressing an engine Start/Stop button on the dashboard,” Hyundai said in a statement.
Hyundai isn’t the first automaker to employ the smartphone as a key. Tesla’s Model 3 also uses the phone, via Bluetooth, to open the car and prepare it for use as the driver gets within range of about 30 feet of the car. NFC, which the Hyundai phone key uses, requires you to be within about 4 centimeters. Hyundai is part of a consortium, along with other carmakers like BMW and Volkswagen, developing standardized specifications for digital key systems.