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Lose Your Car Keys? Just Pull Out Your Smartphone

Misplace your car keys? Hyundai may have a solution that puts an end to this problem. Earlier this month, near its European headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, Hyundai unveiled its Connectivity Concept, which allows owners to unlock and lock their car using a smartphone.

This technology goes beyond Bluetooth pairing, which is now a common feature in most new cars. By placing a smartphone over a Near Field Communication (NFC) tag, Hyundai’s Connectivity Concept lets users lock and unlock the car. Additionally, when the smartphone is placed on the center console, not only is its battery recharged, but the console displays the user’s content on a touch screen. This includes contacts, music, navigation information, apps, radio station preferences and unique profile settings.

Hyundai says the Connectivity Concept system will recognize different smartphones, tailoring its settings to the device. As the technology advances, Hyundai expects the system to be able to store the driver’s seat positions and exterior mirror settings as well.

Other automakers offer similar technology that allows owners to modify settings depending on the driver. Ford introduced its MyKey system in 2008 and it debuted in 2009 on the 2010 Focus. MyKey lets users customize settings for new drivers through a customizable key. With this system, which is now standard on several Ford vehicles like the Fusion and Escape, owners can limit the car’s top speed to 80 mph, limit volume levels on the audio system and set speed chime alerts at 45, 55 and 65 mph.

Hyundai’s Connectivity Concept utilizes MirrorLink technology, which connects a smartphone to the vehicle’s infotainment system. “Despite forging dozens of automaker partnerships, MirrorLink hasn’t caught on with many manufacturers yet,” reports Wired. “That’s mainly due to concerns about driver distraction and how certain apps would be ported to the integrated screen, modifying the user interface to suit a more driver-focused experience.”

Edmunds says, “Automakers are in a race to heighten the connection between cars and user devices. Toyota recently debuted Qi wireless charging on its 2013 Toyota Avalon Limited.”

Chevrolet has a similar technology that lets users control certain vehicle functions. With Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system and downloadable myChevrolet and OnStar RemoteLink apps, owners can unlock or lock their car doors, start the engine, ask for roadside assistance and schedule service appointments from a smartphone. The MyLink infotainment system also allows users to sync their smartphone and place calls or stream music.

Hyundai used the i30 hatchback (the Elantra GT in the U.S.) to showcase the technology and expects production of its Connectivity Concept to get started in 2015.

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