(Pocket-lint) - Hyundai Motor Group - which includes Kia cars - has announced a plan to roll out a digital key later this year. In simple terms, it means you'll be able to use your smartphone, and an app, to unlock and start your Kia.
Once live, car owners will be able to download an app onto a smartphone, which then lets them download this Digital Key. What's more, you'll be able to share this Digital Key with up to four other authorised people, so that they can gain access to your car.
Of course, some hardware is required to make this work, so Kia and Hyundai cars will have NFC antennas built into the front door handles on both the passenger and driver side.
There will also be another NFC chip placed within the wireless charging pad near the centre console, allowing the user to start up the engine.
To fire it up, the driver will simply have to unlock the car, place the smartphone on the charging pad and then press the Start/Stop button.
Perhaps just as interesting as this is that the NFC chip and smartphone app allow the car to remember customised settings for each individual user.
In theory, this mean that when you get in and place your phone on the wireless charging pad, it will adjust the position of the mirrors, seats and steering wheel to match your own desired settings.
These though, are just the basics. This Digital Key and smartphone tech allows a huge amount of flexibility and customisation.
For instance, you could use your Digital Key to authorise a delivery driver to only open the boot, so they can place something inside. They won't be able to start the car, and drive it away.
You'll even be able to control some features remotely using Bluetooth LE. Although range is a factor here, you will be able to lock/unlock the car and activate the alarm.
Hyundai's vision here isn't just limited to individual owners, however. A lot of what's enabled by the Digital Key makes it idea for our car-sharing future.
You'll be able to rent/hire a car using the downloaded key on your phone, pick it up and go drive it. Companies renting them out will also be able to control some elements remotely, setting time limits on how long that person has access to the car for.
Of course, not every situation lends itself to a Digital Key. For instance, handing it over to a valet at a hotel - or to a mechanic for repairs - means you'll still need a physical key of some type. Kia will still supply both a smart key and card key for these instances.
One question it does raise is for iPhone users. Currently, Apple is quite restrictive over the use of its iPhone NFC antennas, however, with the hardware currently being used for access to some hotel rooms and university campuses, as well as unlocking August smart locks, using it for Kia's Digital Key technology isn't impossible. With that said, both BMW and Citreon's similar technology is Android-only.
This is likely where the Bluetooth LE is going to come in handy. If NFC is not an option on Apple's devices, you should be able to use the short-range Bluetooth to perform the same task. In the newly announced Polestar, there are four Bluetooth antenna that can only be unlocked from 1.5m using a smartphone.
So when's it rolling out? Hyundai Motor Group says it'll be in new Kia and Hyundai vehicles from later this year.