Digital key

Digital key is a feature that allows the use of smart devices as keys. A digital key can be used in the same way as a physical key or a key fob. It is used mainly for locking and unlocking doors.

To use a digital key, the user generally needs to install the car manufacturer’s application. The application connects to the vehicle via a wireless network, usually near-field communication (NFC), Bluetooth or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). If the digital key uses NFC then the smart device needs to be near the door to unlock it. For example, to unlock the car door, the user usually needs to put their device against the door handle. When the system uses Bluetooth, the user can open the doors with a tap of a button in the device while being near the vehicle. Some systems even unlock the vehicle doors by proximity only, meaning that the device can be in the users pocket the whole time.

The main reason for developing digital keys is to make the experience more convenient for the user and to allow an easy way to share keys. This feature is the basis for smart rental. The customer can unlock the car doors without going to the rental desk to get the key.

Synonym(s):
  • virtual key