Hyundai has announced the development of a new Digital Key which will allow users to unlock their Hyundai vehicles using an app on their smartphone. This technology replaces the need for carrying a traditional physical key. Up to four authorized users can use the smartphone app to unlock the vehicle. This is an advanced and futuristic vision the company has decided to pursue to ease the trouble of carrying a key or even lose it.
The digital key has to be downloaded on the smartphone. The NFC (Near Field Communication) technology in the car will then detect the presence of the authorized key and unlock the car when it’s in close proximity of the vehicle door. The NFC antenna is located in the handles of the driver and front passenger’s doors, and one is located within the wireless charging pad to start the engine. After unlocking the vehicle, the user may start the engine by placing the smartphone on the wireless charging pad in the centre console and pressing the engine Start/Stop button on the dashboard.
The vehicle setting for an individual user is stored in the vehicle, the user can then select their preferred vehicle setting from the app or the key is recognized and then those settings are adjusted automatically. The vehicle settings including the position of the mirrors, seats and the steering wheel, as well as the audio and visual controls along with navigation systems and the heads-up display. The Digital Key can also be used to control selected vehicle systems like locking and unlocking the vehicle, activating the alarm and even starting the engine remotely via the smartphone.
The level of access to different vehicle functions can be customized according to each user’s preference for a limited period. The vehicle owner and primary user can preset the duration of vehicle use or limit the use to only certain features when lending the vehicle to other users in the family or friends. Once the concept of car sharing becomes more extensive, the Digital Key will be further programmed to support those trends. In cases such as a valet service or a car repair shop, where handing over a digital key is not practical, a conventional smart key and card type key will also be provided. Hyundai Motor Group aims to start implementing this technology in its new production vehicles, starting later this year. The Hyundai Kona is most likely to get this feature in its production variant.