Volvo will soon let you start its cars over Bluetooth
Smartphones are slowly but surely pushing themselves further and further into our lives. Want to turn up the thermostat at home? Fire up your Nest app. Buy some milk at the corner store? You can pay by app, too. Now Volvo is looking to let users replace their car keys with their smartphones, announcing today plans to bring Bluetooth-based driver authentication to its vehicles as of next year.
From unlocking doors to starting the engine, everything you use a physical key or key fob for now you’ll soon be able to do through your smartphone. Tests are to begin later this year, before commercial availability get started in 2017.
Beyond framing this as a convenient way to access your own car, Volvo describes ways rental agencies may embrace the tech to streamline their operations: with the Volvo app on your phone, you could theoretically register, pay for, be given directions to, and start your Volvo rental car, all from your smartphone – no waiting in line or dealing with a person at all.
Volvo’s plans for the app sound full-featured enough, even supporting loaning your virtual key to trusted friends and family, but so far we don’t know that much about technical details – and specifically, which platforms Volvo intends to make its app available for. Press materials show Android and iOS phones, but we don’t know anything about possible Windows 10 Mobile support.
Finally, in case all this increased reliance on your smartphone has you feeling a bit nervous (what if it’s lost/stolen/broken/runs out of battery?) Volvo’s still happy to hook new owners up with physical keys. How retro is that?