The Automotive Industry, Briefly

Will Your Smartphone Replace Standard Key Fobs?

Smartphone Key Fob

Smartphones are amazing and have increasingly given us the ability to do things we never dreamed they could. In the beginning, it was only talking on the phone and texting, but they have evolved dramatically over the years. From streaming music and navigation, to apps that allow you to play games, find the cheapest gasoline, and skype or snapchat that allow you to talk face to face, our smartphones seem to do it all.

Car makers have taken notice of the smartphone and have not only created apps to unlock/lock your vehicle, but even have gone as far as to integrate them into their vehicles. So this begs the question; can your smartphone someday replace your car keys or key fob? With temperatures rising it is never fun to step into your hot car. Not a problem if you own a Tesla S and an iPhone. Their app allows you to remotely turn on the A/C. Pretty cool, no pun intended.

This app also allows you to unlock and lock the vehicle, start the engine, monitor the battery, and turn down the heat. There are some complications when replacing a key fob for a standard smartphone app. Today, you can open your car doors by simply walking near them with the fob in your purse or pocket, which is very convenient. They also include a chip in them, which makes it impossible for locksmiths to duplicate for security reasons. Today’s keys let you start the car conveniently and won’t lock your keys in the car.

Now let’s look at the downfall of using your smartphone as a key. The huge obvious problem is battery life. If you are out in the woods on a long hike with your phone, streaming music, and your battery dies, how do you then unlock your car? What if your data network is slow, or you don’t have a signal? And let’s be real, phones are huge and pulling them out of your pocket would be cumbersome just to open the door. There also may be monthly fees incurred for the apps.

Security could also be a huge problem. If you get a new phone, or sell your vehicle and the car is connected to it, it could pose a problem, even if it is pin protected. More realistically, key fobs and smartphones will work in conjunction with one another, rather than replacing each other. Smartphone apps will play a large part in the evolution of cars, but won’t likely replace a key fob anytime soon.



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