Smartphone Integration

Continental’s smartphone approach as alternative to car keys

Published: 24 October 2016

The days of car keys are numbered, soon may become part of the history, never to be used again. Continental AG has developed a new technology which uses smart phones to unlock a car door and start the engine.

It uses  smartphone’s Bluetooth connectivity to communicate with an adapter plugged into the vehicle’s OBD-II port. The adapter, in turn, uses a radio frequency to pass along the “engine start” signal to the vehicle.

The company targets car-rental agencies, corporate fleet owners and car-sharing services for its product.The renting company can send a code to the customers’s number which he can use to unlock the car via an app.

However  Mike Crane, Continental AG’s North American vice president of body and security,says”For the near future — maybe the next seven to 10 years — the virtual key and the physical key fob will coexist,” he predicted. “Both will be the property of the car owner.”

Analyst Sam Abuelsamid of Navigant Research believes virtual keys will catch on quickly in the retail market.”I think it could be a very useful option for retail customers,” Abuelsamid said. “Smartphones are ubiquitous. Almost everyone is using a smartphone now.”

The automakers can provide a small spare key in case the battery dies– just a key blade, without the fob — that car owners could keep in their wallet. They could use it to open the door, plug in their phone and start the engine.

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