Apple Wants To Replace Your Key With Your iPhone And Proximity Sensors

Apple was just granted a patent that would use your iPhone and a CarPlay-equipped car to unlock the doors, pop the trunk, and even flick on the seat heaters. And do it all without pulling your phone from your pocket.


Rather than simply replacing your key fob with an app that lets you lock and unlock the doors, remote-start the engine, or roll down the windows – similar to what's on offer from GM and others – Apple's take is all about proximity.

Specifically, by using a combination of either Apple's iBeacon tech (using Bluetooth Low Energy) to connect to the head-unit or a location-based vCard, as soon as you get within range of the car, any number of actions could be triggered. But it's even more granular than that.

The patent describes a series of sectioned geo-fences around particular parts of the vehicle. Walk up to the trunk and the system recognizes you there and opens the lid. Approach the passenger door, and it unlocks. And that's the least ambitious stuff.


With your phone connected to the network and your car equipped with an embedded data connection (over 150 million of which are estimated to be on the road by 2020), the sensors in your iPhone could keep track of your movements inside your home or office, recognize a pattern – say, going to your chest of drawers to grab your wallet – and automatically pre-heat or cool the interior knowing you're on your way.

Of course, it's just a patent for now and only Ferrari offers a CarPlay-equipped vehicle right now. But the real question is what happens if you phone runs out of juice and you left your charger in the FF.


Topshot credit: Getty Images

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