Digital keys Personalize the driving experience

Digital keys Personalize the driving experience

A driver’s daily experience with a car starts just outside the vehicle – unlocking the door to access the driver’s seat.

A growing number of automakers are using technology to make this process frictionless by letting their apps play the role of a key or key fob. People usually carry their smartphone with them, so why not equip it with a digital key?

On Thursday (June 9), the car manufacturer Rivian released a blog posts and a video highlights the four tools that drivers can use to lock and unlock electric vehicles: app, key fob, key fob and key card. The manufacturer delivered its first electric trucks in 2021, and has developed these keys for the R1T pickup and R1S sport utility.

“When it came time to create keys and access for our vehicles, Rivian’s user experience team researched, created storyboards and lab- and field-tested ideas and solutions for all kinds of situations,” Rivian wrote in the blog post. “Whatever the scenario, our technology had to match the standards our electric adventure vehicles set for design, capability and durability.”

Get the vehicle ready for the driver

What does a smartphone-enabled digital key add to the experience? Firstly, with the Rivian app, the vehicle detects the driver’s approach, unlocks the doors and automatically adapts driver settings such as the positions of the mirrors, steering wheel and driver’s seat.

“It’s not so much about unlocking the car; it’s about identifying yourself to the vehicle, and now the vehicle is ready for you” Rivian Vice President of Vehicle User Experience Eric Wood said in the video.

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The automaker suggests that drivers use the app for daily driving and other times they are comfortable carrying the phone.

Other use cases for the Rivian app use secure connectivity to remotely lock and unlock the vehicle, as well as share access to the vehicle with family and friends by giving them temporary or permanent use of the app on their own phones.

Sharing vehicles in consumer, commercial applications

Others have also noted these and other advantages of digital keys.

Read more: Digital car keys help many consumer and commercial uses

For example, some car manufacturers note that with Ultra Wideband (UWB) technology they enable hands-free access to the car, allowing drivers to keep their phone where they carry it and freeing them from the need to keep it close to the door handle.

Digital key technology can also be used to share access to the car while disabling certain functions. Use cases here include giving friends access to the vehicle while on vacation, giving a child access to the vehicle without the ability to start the engine, and supporting commercial applications such as fleets, carpooling and rentals.

Offers different keys for different purposes

The three other forms of keys offered by Rivian each have their own purposes, the automaker added. For example, the carabiner-equipped key fob can be attached anywhere, is waterproof and is recommended for use when drivers do not want to carry their phone with them.

Likewise, the silicone keychain is waterproof, can be worn as a wristband, and is designed to be used in situations where the user is likely to go underwater and doesn’t want to be burdened with carrying anything else.

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The fourth option, a credit card-like key card, can serve as a backup for the user’s phone – such as in the event of battery failure – and provides an easy way to provide access to the vehicle to officers and car services.

“We designed and built electric vehicles that are capable of taking you down whatever you call a road, and the R1T and R1S deserved matching keys,” said Rivian.

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