BMW’s i8 Key-Fob Paves the Way for Car-Key Technology

Once upon a time, you could open the door and start the engine on your favourite car with a  by inserting a simple flat metal key in to the door handle and ignition lock.

That was a while ago and since then, times have changed.  Today’s keys make yesterday’s keys look like 18th century bicycles lined up next to one of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceships.

Apple’s unveiling of the iWatch and CEO Tim Cook’s earlier comments about how it could control your car prompted us to dig around and see what other companies are doing with their keys.

As usual, you can leave it to the Germans to provide the equivalent of spaceship, when all you really need is a flat metal blade.  Specifically, we’re referring to BMW’s key fob to the new i8 hybrid-electric car.  That said, the keyfob really is a masterpiece and a sight to behold.

Revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, the fob features a small 2.2” high resolution LCD information screen. Aside from providing typical fob functionality, such as locking, unlocking, remote starting, BMW’s unit also provides fuel level and vehicle battery charge level information.

BMW also build Smartphone-like functionality in the key-fob.  The user can swipe the screen left and right to reveal whether car doors and windows are closed and the doors locked.  A really nifty touch is that the fob will also let you set vehicle internal temperature and view vehicle mileage range while your car is parked outside in the freezing cold.  We think we could really go for that one, based in the Northeast USA.

Finally, the i8’s keyfob is powered by a small lithium ion battery that is charged inside the car, wirelessly.  There’s even a mini docking station for the key behind the shifter.

Chances are you might not have a space 135 grand lying around to buy yourself a spiffy new i8.  Never despair, however.  If you wait a year or two, the technology will trickled down and you should be able to get type of key for your Toyota Prius.

Posted by: Farra Majid on Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 at 6:51 pm in LIFESTYLE