Hyundai has announced the introduction of multi-user smartphone access on select models beginning this year, using NFC technology.

Customers will be able to download the access key as an app on their smartphones and open the front doors by bringing the smartphone close. Once inside the car, access to the Start/Stop button function will be controlled by a charging pad on which the phone rests. NFC antennas are embedded in the handles and charging pad.

The vehicle will also recognise each user’s preferred settings, such as position of mirrors, seats and the steering wheel, as well as controls for the audio, video and navigation systems, and the head-up display.

“This is a practical application of Hyundai’s connected vehicle technology to create new, genuinely useful functions,” said Mike Song, Hyundai’s Head of Operations for the Middle East and Africa. “Not only will people be able to use their smartphone in place of a key, but they will also be able to authorise other drivers simply by sharing the app, without having to keep track of multiple sets of car keys.”

When sharing the car, a Hyundai owner will be able to limit the functions available for each digital key. This could include placing a time-limit for when the key will expire or setting an alert to warn the owner if the car is being driven too fast or is outside a designated area.

The introduction of this technology allows the company to scale up comfortably into a scenario of ride-sharing and remote rentals, while also offering car and fleet owners greater control. However, physical keys or key cards will be provided for service convenience and valet functions.

“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.”

These other methods include the introduction of fingerprint access, which will begin to be commercially available from this year with its introduction on the new Santa Fe.

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