With the help of Bluetooth® technology, smartphones are being used as alternatives to keys for your car. And while keyless entry seems like a recent concept, the history of keyless access systems in cars is older.

Almost 30 years ago, an electrical engineer from the small German town of Siegen had an early vision for car sharing. At that time, the first sharing systems required owners and renters to meet and hand over keys. However, the first automated car sharing system in Germany began with a cut-out glove box into which an on-board computer was installed. With some programming work, personalized prepaid cards could be scanned at the car via an infrared transmitter and unlock the automobile.

Bosch Carries the Car Key to the Grave

The history of the car key is even older. In 1911, Bosch delivered the first ignition switch with the corresponding key, and the interior lock as an anti-theft device followed in 1920 (previously unnecessary due to the lack of car roofs). With the introduction of central locking in the 1990s, the car key became a remote control. In principle, these are also usable as passive systems in which the car opens when the driver approaches. However, since car thieves could intercept this, such systems have never reached market maturity.

With the broad connectivity of the car and the smartphone, a new chapter in the history of the car key is beginning. At the Digital Kindergarten 2019 in Hamburg, Bosch buried the car key as we know it – with drums, trumpets, and a funeral speaker. In the future, the world’s largest automotive supplier will rely on the app-based system Perfectly Keyless. The smartphone’s microchips use Bluetooth® technology to communicate with sensors installed in the vehicle. This ensures that the smartphone is recognized as reliably as a fingerprint, and the car opens automatically when the driver approaches. If the battery is empty, the vehicle can still be unlocked via NFC, holding the smartphone directly against the sensor.

Keyless Access with Bluetooth Technology

Digital car keys allow the car to be unlocked automatically when the driver approaches. In addition, only certain doors can be unlocked and opened while others remain closed. This offers great advantages, especially in the commercial sector.

“Construction workers, for example, often come to their vehicle in a short time when loading or unloading. To ensure the safety of their equipment, they can use digital keys to program their smartphone to automatically lock and unlock the vehicle,” explains Chuck Sabin, Senior Director of Market Development and Business Strategy at the Bluetooth SIG. “It also allows other users to gain temporary access to the vehicle.”

Car Connectivity Beyond Infotainment

In-vehicle sensor networks are driving new applications in the automotive sector. In addition to the digital key and Bluetooth based infotainment systems, wireless sensor networks transmit real-time diagnostic information and alerts via Bluetooth® technology, including tire pressure and condition alerts for essential systems. Current forecasts by the market research institute ABI Research predict that by 2024, two-thirds of all vehicles on the road (passenger cars, SUVs, and commercial vehicles) will use Bluetooth technology. It is also forecasted that there will be an anticipated four-to-six sensors in every future car.

The story of digital networked cars is just getting started! 

FEATURED DOWNLOAD

2020 Bluetooth Market Update

Get exclusive access to the most important trends and forecasts for Bluetooth technology, and learn how the Bluetooth community continues to expand the technology to solve new connectivity challenges and address new market opportunities.

LEARN MORE

Bluetooth Location Services Device Growth to Trend Up Over the Next 5 Years

Best known for its innovation in audio streaming and wearable devices, Bluetooth® technology is also…

The Role of Lighting in Smart Buildings

Undoubtedly, everyone is aware of two types of lighting, i.e., wired and wireless. It…

Secure and Accurate Distance Bounding for Bluetooth Secure Access

Are you involved in the design and development of products that rely on secure…

Why Texas Instruments Uses Bluetooth Technology for Their Digital Key Solutions

For years, Texas Instruments has helped pioneer the transition to integrated circuits (ICs), advancing…

From Car Access to Tire Pressure Monitoring, Discover How Bluetooth Low Energy is Changing the Connected Car

Bluetooth® Low Energy is on a path to become ubiquitous. The Bluetooth Special Interest…

Evolution vs. Revolution: The Building Blocks of Automotive Body Electronics

In the past few generations of automobiles, there have been significant advancements in vehicle…

Bluetooth Indoor Positioning

Bluetooth direction finding, introduced with Bluetooth 5.1, lets users locate assets, people, and anything…

Using Wireless Technologies to Replace Cables in Car Access and Battery Management Systems in Automotive

Is this cable replacement really possible? How reliable it is? Well these are just…

Exploring Connectivity Trends For Bluetooth Low Energy In The Car

Connectivity’s ubiquity in the world is certainly gaining momentum in the automotive industry. Many…

Angle of Arrival with Bluetooth Low Energy for Car Access

Experience how Bluetooth 5.1 and its cutting edge localization tools with angle of arrival…

3 Ways Bluetooth RTLS Infrastructures Will Improve Efficiencies Beyond COVID-19

Bluetooth® technology is being leveraged around the world to help reduce the spread of…

How Real-Time Location Services Build a Bridge to Post-COVID-19 Supply Chains

Real-time locating systems offer a way to bridge that gap, with savings and efficiencies…

Exploring Connectivity Trends for Bluetooth® Low Energy in the Car

Discover new Bluetooth applications emerging in the automotive industry, from personalizing an owner’s interaction…

Chicago office building constructed with coronavirus-fighting features

When it opens later this summer, a $26 million Chicago office building will be…

Bluetooth Low Energy and the Automotive Transformation

The automotive industry has been experiencing a tremendous transformation. For many consumers, cars are…

Bluetooth Location Services

See 8 use cases for enhancing building efficiencies and creating a better visitor experience, discover new data that supports the latest trends and forecasts, and find out what’s driving the rapid adoption of location services solutions.

 Get Help