Continental Holds the 'Keys' to Future Driving

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Supplier company Continental may hold the “keys” to future driving thanks to two different technologies under development.

Several automakers are offering smartphone applications these days that allow you to control various functions of your vehicle, from locking or unlocking the doors to starting the engine to even checking how much fuel is in the tank. Conti is working on a way for owners of practically any car or truck with keyless entry to enjoy some of these features.

“Shadow Key” uses an RFID chip that’s ideally embedded in a phone case though it could be a separate, credit card-sized item. This circuit communicates with the handset’s near-field communications chip (NFC) enabling the abovementioned functionality. The phone talks to the RFID tag and it exchanges data with the vehicle. Shadow Key works like existing keyless-entry systems but gives drivers extra functionality and another option should they misplace their fob. This technology could launch within three to four years and is a clever way of bringing new functionality to slightly older vehicles.

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Another smartphone-related item Continental engineers have conjured up is called Virtual Key. Aimed primarily at fleet operators, this system ties a handset in with a vehicle and allows supervisors or bosses to easily monitor things like miles traveled, fuel burned and where a driver’s been. It’s ideal for businesses with a fleet of vehicles, daily rental companies and car-sharing services, anyone that wants to easily track parameters like these.

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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