Imagine being able to unlock and even start your car through an app on your phone. Sounds very convenient right? Especially since we live in the day and age where everyone is using a mobile phone constantly. 

Hyundai Motor Group (which includes Kia) is already working to develop an app or a ‘Digital Key’ that allows vehicle owners to do just that. It would also replace the need to have a physical key that takes up space in pockets. Instead, the Digital Key would be downloaded via an app on your phone and can be used by up to four authorized people.

The Digital Key works by using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, which detects the presence of an authorized Digital Key-enabled cellphone in close proximity to the vehicle’s front doors. Once inside, users can start the car by placing the smartphone on the wireless charging pad in the center console and then simply pressing the Start/Stop button. 

Is unlocking and startinging your Hyundai via mobile app smart or risky? image

With the Digital Key, users can store preferred vehicle settings such as the position of mirrors, seat, steering wheel, and even controls for the infotainment, navigation and heads-up display. This allows the car to automatically adjust settings depending on which user will be driving the car. 

Hyundai adds that the Digital Key can also be used to control select vehicle systems remotely through their smartphones. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) communication, users can unlock and lock, activate the alarm and even start the engine without going near the vehicle. In the future, Hyundai says you could even use the Digital Key to have the vehicle park automatically.

While Hyundai’s upcoming Digital Key technology is indeed very innovative, there are some questions on safety and risk. What happens if you lose/break your phone? Worse yet, what if it gets stolen? How will we be able to stop the pickpocket from stealing the car as well? Or better yet, how will the owner gain access to the vehicle? 

There is also the possibility of hackers being able to hack and steal your car as well. Given that the system uses either NFC or Bluetooth to connect with the vehicle, hackers can likely replicate the signal of your phone, giving them access to your vehicles. 

With the number of risks, Hyundai will have to sort out all issues before fully implementing the Digital Key system. According to the press release, the Korean automaker plans to start implementing the technology in new production cars starting with the next-generation Sonata which will be making its U.S. debut at the New York Motor Show.