4 Innovations That Will Make Car Lockouts a Thing of the Past
If it’s ever happened to you, you know that panicky, dread-filled feeling all too well: You’re locked out of your car. Maybe you locked your keys in the car, or maybe you misplaced them altogether.
Either way, you’ve got a long day ahead of you trying to get access to your vehicle. Luckily, this unfortunate situation is quickly becoming less and less common as modern car key technology continues to advance.
A Keyless Revolution
Even if you don’t drive the latest and greatest vehicles, you’ve probably encountered some type of technologically enhanced key at some point. Truth is, even as far back as the early 2000s, car keys had already begun to change for the better. And while the embrace of this new key technology seems to go hand-in-hand with a host of added benefits like increased security and convenience, they’ve also helped put those days of being locked out of the car a thing of the past.
Keyless Entry Keypad
With their SecuriCode keyless entry keypad (originally introduced in the 1980s, believe it or not), Ford became a pioneer of modern car key technology. What’s even more impressive is that many Ford vehicles still come equipped with this keyless entry system. Located on the driver’s door, the keypad might appear as a series of physical buttons right under the window, or it might be invisible and mounted on the side door frame. To work it, owners simply enter a 5-digit code (either set by the factory or user customized). Once the code is entered, the car doors automatically unlock.
Like this concept? You don’t have to drive a Ford to use this keypad unlocking technology. You can purchase and install a digital touch keypad for your car for around $100.
In the last decade, keyless entry has gone from a luxury feature only available in a small number of top-of-the-line vehicles to a pretty standard piece of auto equipment that works through some kind of fob. As you approach your car door, a radio signal is sent to your key fob and the fob relays a code to your car. When the car recognizes the signal, the car doors are unlocked. But that’s not all. Because the system can tell if the fob is in your vehicle, you’ll never have to worry about locking your keys in your car.
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Digital Keys and Phone-as-Key Apps
The next step in the evolution of keyless entry is the digital key. You won’t need to rely on a fob at all. Some car manufacturers — including Tesla, GMC and Volvo — are allowing vehicle owners to use an app on their smartphones to lock, unlock and even start their cars. Because of the ubiquitous nature of smartphones, this helps to solve the problem of keeping up with a set of keys or a fob. Furthermore, many manufacturers offer backup keys in the form of keycards in case you don’t have your smartphone on or it runs out of batteries.
Biometric Fingerprint Technology
To take it a step further, some car manufacturers like Hyundai have begun incorporating biometric fingerprint technology to allow drivers to use their fingerprints as car keys. To enter the locked vehicle, users simply place a finger on a sensor located on the door handle. Then, the encrypted fingerprinted information is identified and delivered to the vehicle's computer. Biometrics can even be used to start the vehicle by allowing a user to simply place their finger on the scanning sensor.
If that all sounds great, this technology is also used to create a completely individualized driving experience. When specific fingerprint data is matched, the vehicle automatically adjusts seat positions, selected car features and even mirror angles to suit the driver’s unique preferences.
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Keyed-In to the Future
It’s hardly news that car keys are changing rapidly, so much so that standard metal car keys are quickly becoming obsolete. In fact, in 2019, the consumer car research firm Edmunds reported nearly 91% of all model-year vehicles included some form of keyless entry and ignition.
Knowing this, it’s not all that difficult to imagine a completely keyless future. And that’s something those of us who are prone to losing our keys can celebrate.
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