The Newest Auto Trend: Smart Keys vs. Smartphone

Is the traditional car key quickly becoming a thing of the past? Some auto trend-watchers are claiming that smartphone-run apps will be the new way to go when it comes to running your car. Although smart keys are today considered standard fare with new vehicles, they are a hassle because of their cost when lost and they are awkward to carry around.

According to AAA, last year alone, more than 4 million members needed help after locking themselves out of their vehicles. This occurred in spite of the fact that many manufacturers adopted transponder fobs that allow key-free entry and starting. In the words of John Nielsen, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and repair: “Traditional car keys will likely become obsolete and be replaced by technologies offering even greater security and convenience. Motorists will need to adapt with the technology to avoid the hassle and expense of smart key replacements.”

There are problems associated with the use of the remote start fob. Usually, about $300 to replace for one thing, remotely starting a vehicle in a closed space like a parking garage can be dangerous, as engine exhaust gases build perilously and quickly. Also, the battery needs changing about once a year. The devices do alert the driver of low power before they die, but the driver must also prevent exposure of the fobs to pets and the elements, especially water.

Replacement smart keys can cost hundreds of dollars depending on the make and model of the car. This is because newer keys to vehicles require programming with special (expensive) electronic equipment.

Automatic Labs, a San Francisco, California, start-up company is taking orders for a $69.95 device that is called the Automatic Link. Via Bluetooth 4.0 to a smartphone, this device plugs into a car’s onboard diagnostic ports and links. This process permits the device to read and grade a driver’s road habits and monitors fuel efficiency. In addition, it can also warn of problems, inform the driver where he or she is parked and turn off warning lights on the dashboard. It’s like a multitude of ribbons tied around every finger to remind the driver via a GPS about the best gas prices, where filling stations are located and exactly how much fuel remains in the tank.

Our day-to-day lives have been revolutionized by smartphones and the Internet, but vehicles remain behind in these dynamic and innovative transformations.

Will they catch up?

It looks like it, but only time will tell.
Posted by M Dee Dubroff, on May 17, 2013 at 10:00 PM