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Samsung Collaborates With 4 Car Brands, To Use Galaxy S21 Smartphones As Car Keys
February 17, 2021 News


In their Galaxy Unpacked 2021 event, Samsung announced various additions to their devices and technologies – including the new Galaxy S21, S21+ and S21 Ultra smartphones, which will also serve as digital car keys. In partnership with auto brands Audi, BMW, Ford and Genesis, Samsung plans to enable car owners to unlock their car doors “when you reach it, no sooner, no later”.

The digital car key features will be available for the S21+ and S21 Ultra, which will utilise the Ultra Wideband technology (UWB). These UWB-enabled Galaxy phones will allow users to find exactly where they are in relation to their cars through Samsung’s AR viewfinder – perfect for finding your car in a crowded place.

UWB works by sending billions of pulses across the wide spectrum frequency; a corresponding receiver then translates the pulses into data by listening for a familiar pulse sequence sent by the transmitter. In Samsung’s case, such a feature will work with UWB-equipped cars and UWB-enabled phones.

“Using larger channel bandwidth (500MHz) with short pulses (2 nanoseconds each), UWB achieves greater accuracy. The UWB positioning process instantaneously tracks the device’s movements in real-time. In doing so, UWB-enabled devices can understand both motion and relative position”, explained Samsung in a blog.

Other Samsung phones that are also UWB-enabled, the Galaxy Z Fold 2 and the Note 20 Ultra, also support the AR viewfinder (it is not clear whether they will support the digital car key feature too). As for the Galaxy S21, it will still be able to serve as a car key, this time using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.

“You’ll even be able to share your digital key across smartphones, regardless of brand or platform”, added Samsung, as they are “actively working to expand our automobile partnerships with the goal of offering this feature across a wide variety of car makes and models”.

Apple, Samsung’s direct competitor, already has their NFC-enabled digital car keys but is also set to utilise the UWB technology through BMW’s mobile car key technology called the Digital Key Plus.

Samsung is also planning to release their UWB-enabled SmartTags, which are small trackers to help you locate items or pets accurately when you attach the tags. These products also use Samsung’s AR features embedded in their SmartThings Find app.

As of this writing, Samsung still has not announced a release date for their digital car key features but The Verge reports that it may be available as soon as August 2021.