Soon, you’ll be able to open and start your car with your smartphone.

10 February, 2019

Hyundai’s new Digital Key technology is set to make our lives even easier.

By now, we’ve all become accustomed to the fact that our smartphone can do a heck of a lot of things. We can use it as a camera, as a credit card, as a health monitor, as a flashlight – the list goes on.

But you’ve probably never considered that your smartphone could be used as a key for your car. That is, until now.

Hyundai Motor Group has developed a smartphone-based Digital Key that allows your vehicle to be unlocked, started and driven without a physical key. Replacing the traditional physical key, the new Digital Key can be downloaded via an app and used by up to four authorised people. The technology is set to feature in new Hyundai vehicles starting later in 2019.



The key (no pun intended) technology is Near Field Communication (NFC), which is used to detect the presence of an authorised Digital Key-enabled cellphone in close proximity to the vehicle door.

The NFC antenna for entry identification is located in the handles of the driver and front passenger doors, while another antenna for starting the engine is located within the vehicle’s wireless charging pad. After unlocking the vehicle, users can start the engine by placing the smartphone on the wireless charging pad in the centre console and pressing an engine Start/Stop button on the dashboard.

The user’s preferred vehicle settings are stored in the vehicle. When the key is recognised, those settings are adjusted automatically – including the position of the mirrors, seats and the steering wheel, as well as controls for the audio, video and navigation (AVN) systems and head-up display.




The level of access to different vehicle functions can be tailored to each user for a defined period. The vehicle owner can preset the duration of vehicle use or limit the use to only certain features when renting the vehicle. For instance, it can be used to enable a courier to open the boot to deliver a parcel, or to facilitate car sharing so that the owner and driver don’t even need to meet.

“The Digital Key will benefit a very wide range of future Hyundai customers, as well as enabling innovative new schemes for vehicle sharing,” said Ho Yoo, Group Leader of Hyundai Motor Group’s Electronics Development Group. “We are studying other ways to harness this type of connected car technology to greatly enhance the driving and ownership experience.”



The Digital Key is just the latest addition to a long line of innovation from Hyundai Motor Group.

Hyundai leads the way when it comes to safety innovation, with Hyundai SmartSense technology including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA), Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW) and more now standard across many of Hyundai’s new vehicles.

In 2018, Hyundai announced the Nexo, its second generation of commercialised hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric vehicles. Building on the success of Hyundai’s ix35 fuel cell, the eco-friendly Nexo emits nothing but water vapour from its exhaust pipe, and has an estimated driving range of 800km. “Hydrogen energy is the key to building a more sustainable society,” said Dr Woong-chul Yang, Vice Chairman, Hyundai Motor Company.




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