If you think the smartphone can’t get any more ubiquitous, wait until more automotive firms adopt the “digital key.” Hyundai, for instance, offers vehicle access functionality through compatible smartphones via the Hyundai Digital Key app.
How does it work?
In terms of convenience, the digital key lets you unlock the car by holding your smartphone against the driver or passenger door handle. Once inside, just place the phone on the wireless charger, push the start button, and you’re off.
In terms of security, the digital key uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to let you operate the vehicle. Unlike Bluetooth, it requires the device and reader to be within a few centimeters of each other. This proximity prevents the vehicle from being unlocked and started by someone else when you just happen to be near your car.
The digital key feature is compatible with Apple and Android devices. The app does not have to be opened to unlock or start your car but, once open, it includes Bluetooth-enabled features that let you lock, unlock, start your vehicle, and engage other functions remotely.
The 2020 Sonata in the United States was the first Hyundai model to incorporate a digital key. The digital key system also allows the primary user to share digital key access with three other users. You can send a “shared key” to another user from across the country.
This system was also available for the redesigned 2021 Hyundai Elantra.
The Digital Key is the latest advancement in vehicle and smartphone integration. Expect to see more of it on future Hyundai models.