The light at the end of the tunnel is finally here. — The New York Times

As if your driver’s license was still not more complicated than Iron Man’s spider-sense, San Francisco-based technology company Root had just unveiled a prototype keyless entry system for cars. Featuring a system reminiscent of something from Minority Report, with discrete lights that move like a lighthouse to indicate that you’re ready to get in the car and use the touch screen to unlock your doors, unlocking cars with the click of a button has all the i’s and tangents of Apple’s HomeKit. It’s not quite on the level of a quick glance at a smartphone, but it’s easily as convenient.

And, as anyone with an iPhone or an Android phone knows, this kind of functionality is also no crime, and a fairly common feature of today’s smartphones (where cars don’t make the list, although there are other alternatives).

The advantage of this approach is that it’s easier to take advantage of new security features, like Vehicle Centralized Authentication System, also known as DCAS (which, actually, is how the iPhone can access your car; it’s not just about its digital or GSM capabilities). While going through your daily routine to get around, this authentication system lets you check in to your car from anywhere, even if you have lost your phone in the sea of carry-on baggage and extra-tough bathing suits at the airport or a parking garage or a blizzard in Buffalo.

The downside is that, when it’s the not the only access point to your car, it doesn’t seem quite secure enough. If your phone runs out of juice and your car’s reserve power is depleted, you’re potentially stuck in your car. This could be inconvenient for those who just want to be home at dinner time. And if a collision were to happen, your car may not run automatically and people could get hurt — or worse, disappear.

The company’s hardware connects via Bluetooth to the company’s core app, which then identifies your car and prompts your account (in order to reset the lock codes to the correct letter “O”) and locks the car so that you never have to stop and go back to look for your phone.

You can, obviously, use other apps with your car to get various connected services, including vehicle tracking (both to locate your car in case of an emergency and to report if something is wrong, like an oil leak), SOS messages for a specific emergency, and even emergency notifications to call the police. If you don’t trust the credentials offered on your phone, Root’s connected app also identifies your address, and the vehicle can be remotely controlled by you so you can unlock the doors from your office if it suddenly needs to be towed. It sounds awesome but it’s not quite ready for production, although the company did not say when it would be.

The company is still raising money on Kickstarter to complete this prototype, with a clear goal to land the device into consumer cars, but it’s a worthy demonstration of the future: replacing all those fingerprints on your doors with a lock key of the future.


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