Toyota invented a box that turns your smartphone into a car key

Toyota is jumping into the increasingly crowded car-sharing market, and it’s doing it with a flair for innovation that helps explain why it’s the world’s biggest auto seller. The company invented a Bluetooth-enabled device called the Smart Key Box that allows users to unlock and start the engine of a car using just their smartphone.

Here’s how it will work: a vehicle owner who wants to make some money on the side lending their car to other people can install the Smart Key Box on their dashboard, no modification needed. The car-share customer is sent a code via an app to access the box. When the smartphone is brought near the vehicle, the codes are authenticated via Bluetooth — Toyota calls it a “handshake” — similar to regular smart key. The time and period when the user can access the Smart Key Box is set and managed by Toyota, based on the vehicle reservation.

Toyota plans to put this new technology to the test in a limited pilot in San Francisco next year in partnership with a peer-to-peer car-sharing service called Getaround. Last week, Getaround received a $10 million investment from a fund controlled by Toyota, Reuters reports. The fund mostly spends money on AI and robotics, but the investment in Getaround is a sign that Toyota is interested in expanding into car-sharing. Only people who own the new Prius or any model Lexus can participate in the car-sharing pilot.

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October 31, 2016 at 8:46 PM

Hope there's a disable button, and a enable button with the app just in case your child has access to there parents vehicles, and there parents put them on punishment!