Friday, July 16, 2010

The key fob is dead! Long live the key fob!

Here's some food for thought.  I was reading in the latest SAE about how key fob powers are becoming broader vehicle personalization devices.  They are doing much more than just an unlock: remote start, rolling down windows, checking temperature, controlling vehicle seat settings, radio presets, colors, and almost any other preferences you can think of.  The article by SAE goes on to quote Lear and talk about how they see the fobs requiring feedback so that you can monitor the vehicle settings remotely as well.  To handle all these capabilities, they're bumping up the processors from 8-bit to 16- or 32-bit processors (can't say that I'm sad about that), as well as putting in small LCD screens.

Okay.  Combine that fact with some other recent announcements.  Like the smart phone apps from Chevy for the Volt or the OnStar smartphone app that lets you access your vehicle.  Delphi makes a system today that right now uses a combination smartphone with a souped-up key fob and range extender.

It's not hard to see that key fobs as we know them are going the way of the dinosaur.  Why on earth are you going to carry one more huge lump on your key chain when you've already got your phone?  I predict that within the next 3 years, key fobs will be those extra-expensive optional add-ons that will be sold only to the severely technologically challenged.  Everyone else will download their OEM's specialized key fob app into their smartphone.  Those key fob apps will use WiFi, Bluetooth, or a cellular network to communicate with their vehicle--unlocking it, starting it, and setting it up specifically for you.  Smartphone apps won't require additional hardware costs.  And they're already an indispensable part of the everyman's (and everywoman's) arsenal.

I'm looking forward to the day when I don't have a key fob, but a key fob app.


  1. I just found an article on this very topic ... ... the key fob less day appears to be near indeed!

  2. People who use key fob to honk are scofflaws and a public nuisance that should be dealt with harshly.

  3. Maybe key fob will be more high-tech in the future. I doesn't see that it will disappear but it will be modified.