Toyota’s Smart Key Box lets you unlock and start up a car using your smartphone

Following Toyota’s investment in San Francisco-based car sharing provider Getaround last month, the Japanese car maker announced its new Smart Key Box – a device that allows users to unlock and start up its cars using just an authenticated smartphone.

Unfortunately, the Smart Key Box is currently intended for use only with the new car sharing service, so you won’t be able to do anything similar with your car any time soon, but is nonetheless a cool, novel idea, and may see wider adoption if it proves pragmatic.

Toyota’s new gadget does not require any modification of the vehicle, and can simply be installed on the dashboard. To make use of it, the driver taking the vehicle on loan needs to authenticate hism- or herself via a proprietary mobile app, which is at the core of the system. The app connects to Toyota’s new cloud-based platform, handles payments and loan schedules, and issues special codes used for authenticating drivers of the shared vehicle. Authentication itself is very simple and happens wirelessly, over Bluetooth, when the user’s smartphone gets in the range of the Smart Key Box. The codes are, of course, encrypted and are only active during the scheduled loan time for each driver, while drivers may get an option to further extend their time via the app.

The new tech will see limited initial tests in San Francisco, in January of next year, during the Getaround pilot program. Only owners of the new Toyota Prius or any model Lexus are eligible for participating in the initial test run.

via The Verge


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