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M inventor: Smartphones will become car keys

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GM inventor: Smartphones will become car keys

03:34 PM

General Motors is relying more and more on apps to help drivers interact with their cars, and one inventor on their team sees a day when your smartphone could be your car key.

The Chevy Volt electric car and the Chevy Cruze small car will come with smartphone apps that lets owners who pay for an OnStar subscription do a lot from their phones: Unlock the car, start it remotely, even honk the horns for a few moments if they need to find the car in a crowded parking lot (or scare the neighbors when you're out of town.)

Dave Proefke, a Buick inventor and GM technical fellow, says he sees a day when key fobs can be worn like jewelry, or smartphones replace keys.

He's helped develop an advanced wireless car key that automatically knows when to lock and unlock doors on the 2011 Buick LaCrosse.

"It does a lot of the thinking for you," said Proefke. "It tries to determine your intended action and perform that action for you."

The new key doesn't require a button press or even a keyhole. Instead it sends out a constant stream of data to the vehicle that includes where the key is located. That helps the car decide whether the doors should be locked or unlocked. It can stay in your purse, pocket or briefcase.

Proefke says don't worry about theives using the technology to steal your car: The radio waves are encrypted and change constantly.



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