Your smartphone has the potential to replace nearly everything else in your pockets, so why not your car keys? Hyundai is working to do just that, with an embedded NFC tag that allows you to open your car, start the engine and link up to the touchscreen with a simple swipe. Hyundai outfitted its i30 compact hatch (aka the Elantra in the States) with NFC technology in its “Connectivity Concept” recently shown at its European headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. The idea is simple: Nix the key fob and let your smartphone handle it all. According to the Korean automaker, the driver can swipe their phone across an embedded NFC chip to unlock the car, and once inside, the place the phone in the center console, allowing the car to start, while an inductive charging plate keeps the juice flowing without needing to plug in. “With this technology, Hyundai is able to harness the all-in-one functionality of existing smartphone technology and integrate it into everyday driving in a seamless fashion,” says Allan Rushforth, senior vice president and COO of Hyundai Motor Europe. But unlocking and starting the car is only part of a wider connectivity solution for Hyundai. Because the system can recognize different smartphones, it can customize the in-car experience to suit each driver’s seat, mirror and infotainment settings. Once the phone is in the console, it links up with the 7-inch touchscreen mounted in the dash, and Hyundai is employing the Car Connectivity Consortium’s MirrorLink standard to automatically import contacts, navigation destinations, streaming audio and apps. Despite forging dozens of automaker partnerships, MirrorLink hasn’t caught on with many manufacturers yet. That’s mainly due to concerns about driver distraction and how certain apps would be ported to the integrated screen, modifying the user interface to suit a more driver-focused experience. But that’s about to change as MirrorLink begins gaining momentum. Hyundai and its connectivity partners at Broadcom are working to get this NFC- and MirrorLink-driven technology to market in its next generation of products, with the automaker claiming to have many of these systems in place by 2015.
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