Google recently announced at the 2021 I/O developer conference that it is closely working with BMW and other auto manufacturers to launch a digital key that will enable car owners to lock, unlock or start a vehicle through an Android smartphone.
The digital key will leverage Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology. However, all other technical details and features are still under wraps. It would work like a radio transmission where a sensor will tell the direction of the signal as seen in radar. This will enable the smartphone antenna to identify and locate objects installed with UWB transmitters. As a result, Android smartphone users can lock/unlock their car without taking the mobile device out.
Cars equipped with NFC technology can also unlock the door by just tapping the smartphone against the door handles of the car. You can also share the digital car key with other persons remotely if you someone else is borrowing your car or you are renting it out.
The digital key feature will replace the traditional keys in the future while saving from the hassles of lost keys. However, this feature will be limited to high-end devices including Samsung Galaxy smartphones and Google Pixel. Carmakers may also charge premium to offer this feature.
Google believes that the digital car key feature is the part of its strategy to keep smartphones at the centre of users’ lives.
There is no announcement yet about which specific models that will benefit from digital key, but BMW has been confirmed as the partner. CarInfo expects select BMW cars to sport the brand new feature from as soon as 2022.