Keys, with its association to security, have always been a part of human existence and probably go as far back in time when the first locks and doors were invented. Yet, nothing seems to be immune to the onslaught of technology and the ubiquitous key may soon go the way of all things ancient, like the analog phone or the dinosaurs.
Volvo, in a revolutionary move for the entire auto industry, revealed its plan to be known as the first car manufacturer to make cars without keys as early as 2017. Replacing the physical keys will be an application for the Volvo customer’s phone that will act as its digital key.
To those who haven’t heard of the term yet, the digital key has been around for quite a while now and is considered to be even more secure than a physical key because it cannot be duplicated or tampered with. The new Volvo app will use the uniqueness of the customer’s mobile phone to act as its sole access to the car and can do everything a physical car key does.
It can unlock and lock doors, truck and even start the engine. However, being a product of convenience, the keyless system will offer more features to the customers than what a physical key does. For example, using a single phone, the customer may access different cars in different locations.
The app could potentially be used to book and even pay for rental cars in the future. Another cool way that the digital key-and-app system could be used is locating the rental car via GPS, which could be a hassle especially if it is your first time using the car and you don’t know how it looks like.
Sharing cars is also very convenient with the use of this new technology from Volvo. Owners can just send their digital key to the mobile phones of the people they have permitted to use their cars, whether it’s family members or co-workers. According to Henrik Green, VP Product Strategy & Vehicle Line Management at Volvo Cars, new technologies being utilized at Volvo have the ultimate goal of making the lives of their customers easier and simpler.
Green added that Volvo’s digital key technology has the potential to change how a Volvo car is used and shared, which could mean a more efficient car utilization in the future instead of just sitting idly in a parking lot all day. Volvo will test this technology via its car sharing firm Sunfleet at Gothenburg airport, Sweden this year. By 2017, a limited number of cars will be available to customers which incorporate the new digital key technology.
Martin Rosengvist, New Car Director, Special Products at Volvo car, admits that since this is a completely new technology, it is possible that they might not have foreseen all its possible applications and they would love to entertain new ideas to maximize its use. Volvo is a pioneer in the new digital key technology having first implemented its working use in 2015. In this application in Sweden, online shopping is delivered directly to the car by providing a one-time key to the delivery company.
However, Volvo will ultimately concede to the preferences of its customers, stating that a physical key will still be available to those who prefer them. This new Volvo technology is set to be shown at the Mobile World Congress 2016 (February 25) in Barcelona Spain at the Ericsson booth.