You already carry a smartphone, so why bother with a key?
Car keys have evolved a lot since the introduction of the automobile. Keys started off as metal sticks that you'd turn in an ignition, but have evolved into proximity key fobs that you carry around to trigger a push-button start. Proximity keys are great because they allow drivers to get in their cars without having to reach into their pocket and take something out. The next generation of car keys are currently in development as automakers begin to replace expensive key fobs with something you already carry around in your pocket: a smartphone.
Tesla has already introduced the idea of using a smartphone as a key with the new Model 3, which only has a backup card key if your smartphone dies. A group called the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) - which includes Volkswagen, BMW, Hyundai, Apple, LG, Samsung, and others - just announced the publication of the Digital Key Release 1.0 specification.
The specification is available for all CCC members, and offers a standardized solution to use smartphones for locking and unlocking vehicles. BMW has already expressed interest in ditching traditional car keys, so these new standards will help make that goal a reality. The CCC says the standard will make use of NFC technology and the system will have "the highest state-of-the-art security level for vehicle access." Thanks to this initiative, we may soon be able to carry one less thing in our pockets when we go for a drive.