Use Your Smartwatch to Start or Find Your Car

January 15, 2015 • Devin Partida


The next big thing in productive technology may involve smartwatches and their compatibility with cars.

Audi is one of several large automobile makers who have begun implementing an integrated 4G LTE connection within their vehicles. This connection provides a wide range of opportunities for smartwatches to boost car owners’ levels of productivity. Audi refers to this 4G LTE connection and the potential advances it brings as the Audi Secure Key project.

Some of the uses are fairly straightforward, but can save a lot of time and energy nonetheless.

One such use is the ability to use a smartwatch to wirelessly start the car. Another is a smartwatch feature that will allow drivers to find their car in a distant or crowded parking lot. These features are already available in some form via smartwatches, smartphones or even as a key chain function, but the 4G LTE connection in cars also creates the potential for more creative uses that Audi’s new Secure Key system is only beginning to show.

The Productive Uses of the Open WebOS Smartwatch

A circular Open webOS smartwatch is the leading device for Secure Key. It can be seen in action in the video below:

As the video shows, the watch boasts a wide range of familiar features typical of most smart devices – calendar, music, messaging, phone and apps. There’s also an Audi icon that is surely designed for the car/smartwatch compatibility features, like wirelessly turning on the vehicle or using the map to find its current location.

While the watch may appear visually similar to LG’s G Watch R, the Open webOS watch is an individual beast. It’s built with sapphire glass and stainless steel casing, with three impeccably finished side buttons with milled end-caps. Of course, the watch’s focal point – its circular touchscreen – is similarly sleek, especially with the trademark Audi icon present on most menus.

Audi: Banking on the Smartwatch Trend

Audi strongly believes that smartwatches will become the next go-to gadget for centralized functions. The Open webOS smartwatch abides by that testament, with functions that connect directly to cars as well as smartphones, which can even be found if lost using the Find My Phone feature on the Open webOS watch. This can save considerable time if a phone is lost and someone needs to make an important call.

Better yet, for those who would rather not deal with a typical smartphone at all, the Open webOS watch doubles as a phone. The watch includes an integrated cellular connection and dialer. While using the smartwatch as a phone may not be its most popular or innovative function, it’s useful nonetheless and can be helpful for productivity so users do not have to carry multiple devices around.

The Productive Innovation of Audi Secure Key

One of the most innovative aspects of the Secure Key project involves the use of a custom NFC/wireless charging plate, which can simultaneously recharge the device and verify the current user. NFC is used over LTE for legal reasons, as the more manual NFC is essential to prove there’s an actual driver in the car as opposed to a thief.

Plus, smartwatches can interact with the NFC plate even if the watch is not charged, helping prevent drivers from being stranded in the middle of nowhere and unable to turn on their car if the smartwatch’s battery runs out. NFC receivers are often placed in the steering wheel, so the smartwatch is quickly and effectively detected.

Fascinatingly, Secure Key will make it much easier to lend a car to a friend or family member. Via a Web-based dashboard, Audi owners can assign multiple devices a digital key that enables anyone with that key to operate the vehicle. This can be very useful if a driver wanted to leave her car at an airport and have a friend pick it up later. Using Secure Key in this instance would save considerable time and money.

From turning the car on wirelessly to using Secure Key to provide vehicle access to friends, the number of productivity-boosting advantages of smartwatch/car compatibility continues to excite. It will be fun to see how car manufacturers like Audi will continue to push the envelope in this niche.

Image by Kārlis Dambrāns