Hyundai wants to turn the smartphone into a car key

The Korean carmaker's Connected Car concept uses NFC technology to allow users to open and close doors with their phone.

Near Field Communication (NFC) might have so far failed to get consumers excited as a technological alternative to debit and credit card transactions, but maybe its future lies in the connected car. South Korean carmaker Hyundai on Friday revealed the first working prototype of its Connectivity Concept that incorporates an NFC-enabled smartphone for accessing certain functions.

The system, which Hyundai hopes will go into production in 2015, allows the driver to lock and unlock the car with an NFC-enabled smartphone and then, once inside, dock the device to activate the car's telematic systems and to upload the driver's personal profile -- such as seat position, favorite radio stations, satellite navigation history and climate control settings. The profile information is streamed to the vehicle's 7-inch touch screen which also mirrors the smartphone's content so that the driver has hands-free access to their contacts and address book.

Allan Rushforth, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Hyundai Motor Europe, said: "Hyundai's Connectivity Concept showcases the brand's philosophy of making tomorrow's technology accessible to a wide range of customers. With this technology, Hyundai is able to harness the all-in-one functionality of existing smartphone technology and integrating it into everyday driving in a seamless fashion. As the technology continually develops there will be capabilities to store driver's seating positions and exterior mirror settings, providing customers with a comfortable and individual driving environment."

A number of luxury car manufacturers already offer a system for recording and saving different driver profiles. For example, the BMW system saves information to a USB drive which can be inserted into the dashboard of any BMW car so that a driver's preferred engine, seat and music settings are always correct, no matter which BMW-manufactured car they happen to be in. Earlier this year Ford introduced what it calls ‘MyKey' technology into the European market which allows owners to program a number of different keys for the same vehicle so that different drivers have access to different features. Aimed at owners with teenaged children, the system means parents can automatically limit the car's top speed and the maximum volume of the stereo system when their children are driving.

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