Author(s): Raghu Gopal
At last year's Mobile World Congress, Volkswagen subsidiary SEAT and Samsung unveiled a digital key concept to enable remote unlocking of car doors as well as controlling air conditioning and several other car functions through a smartphone app.
At this year's Mobile World Congress, which starts today in Barcelona, the companies are showcasing further developments to the concept. The remote-control feature has evolved to enable the car's owner to transfer a temporary key for the car to other people, without the need to hand over a physical key in person. This is similar to the virtual key functions of Internet-connected home door locks. The feature allows the owner to set time limits and other restrictions. For example, a parent can set the maximum speed at which the car can be driven.
In a further move, Samsung and SEAT, together with software maker SAP, are introducing a feature that would enable drivers to pay for goods and services such as fuel and parking using Samsung Pay. The companies envision a smoother experience for drivers using a combination of digital payments and location-based technologies. One example is finding an available parking place on a map, reserving and navigating to the spot and paying for it. Such a scenario would be powered by SAP's Vehicles Network product and Samsung Pay.
There's been a frenzy of activity in this area as digital technologies infiltrate the automotive industry. The International CES event, held last month in Las Vegas, resembled a car show in some ways. A host of firms in the connected world have been working with vehicle manufacturers to build support for the competing Android Auto and CarPlay platforms, and several technology-based companies have carved themselves a niche in the automotive value chain. The connected car is becoming another part of a digital existence, particularly in countries with a heavy driving culture.