Can Smartphones Replace the Car Key?

Posted by Ask Omni on

The year is 2020, with almost 95% of the world’s population owning at least one smart gadget. That usually comes in the form of the smartphone. There’s no way around it, but smartphones are the most commonly used smart gadget at this time. As time goes by, so does the progression of technology. Home appliances are becoming smarter, cars are becoming more intelligent and smartphones are ruling the world. That said, for car owners, could smartphones replace the one item that connects us with our cars? The car key. Could that become totally obsolete? That’s where this article comes in. 


The connection


We’re all familiar with the Internet right? Gone were the days of the dial-up Internet with all of the beeping and buzzing before any form of Internet surfing can be done. Well, now that wireless Internet is around to take the place of its predecessor. With that, the adaptation of the newer form of the Internet turned out to be easy for users to migrate over to the newer version. The same can be said with our cars. Cars these days are more and more advanced with the latest generation of in-car technology to aid the user’s convenience. But what if the smartphone which almost everyone in the world owns can be used to control the car’s functions? Such as power windows, air-conditioning and radio features. Or, take it a step further to control the car’s access between users. Meaning, you as the owner can seamlessly share the car’s access to anyone you want to. This also means fleet owners can provide and gain control their vehicles all from a single smartphone app, creating less hassle when carrying out inspections and such.

Tesla has already pioneered this feature with their Summon Mode on their entire lineup, creating the epitome of connected vehicles ever since the introduction of the Model S. Not just that, as the Tesla lineup also provides users with other essential features such as AutoPilot cruise control and OTA (Over The Air) software updates which also ties in with the hardware of the car. With that technology in hand, this can possibly eradicate the need for physical car rental and car-sharing as everything can be done via a mobile app. The best examples would be Gocar and SoCar.


The drawback


The biggest drawback for new technology like this would be the adoption itself. Many users would be comfortable enough with their current setups and will find it difficult to change their ways to adapt to the new technology. The other issue comes in the form of cost. To be specific, the cost for development of the new technology. It takes countless time to complete and maintain a fully functioning setup. Once its done, there’s no guarantee that the consumers will adapt immediately, which will create losses for some companies. However, Proton is on the right track as their parent company Geely already has its own telematics system and is already embedded into the Proton X70 and newer Proton models.


Where does Malaysia stand?


Currently, the infrastructure of our country is constantly evolving to support newer and more up-to-date technology. This means we could be seeing more and more connected vehicles and connected appliances such as home appliances and even work-related appliances. Heck, we could even be seeing flying cars much sooner than you think which eliminates the worries of rush hour traffic. As of now, however, we’d have to wait for the outcome of other players in the scene. Players such as Audi, Hyundai and even Mercedes-Benz with their own iteration of connected cars. 

On another note, market players such as Moovby is taking car-sharing to another level. Instead of purchasing their own assets like Socar, they lease out other people’s cars to other potential users. Similar to a US-based car-sharing company Turo, their way of making money is by getting car owners to put their personal cars for rent while other users can rent as they please.



Seeing that there is a progression in the connected vehicle space in Malaysia, I’m confident that we can be seeing more and more advancements in various sectors within the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) bill.

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