Samsung teams up with Audi, BMW, Ford, Genesis for digital key tech; SmartThings-Android Auto integration –

Samsung recently hosted its Galaxy Unpacked event, which saw the debut of several products like the new Galaxy S21 series, Galaxy Buds Pro and others. However, it isn’t all gadgets that were promoted during the presentation, as the company also touched upon new features related to cars.

For starters, Samsung’s SmartThings platform will have expanded functionality that allows owners with compatible vehicles to remotely start and stop their car and enable pre-conditioning. Of course, this isn’t something revolutionary, as such functions are already available in apps prepared by automakers.

The idea here is for tighter integration of various connected products into a single ecosystem, so you can control not just your car, but also other smart devices (washing machines, thermostats, robot vacuums and many more) from a single dashboard.

To that extent, Samsung also worked with Google to add SmartThings to Android Auto, so you can control your smart home from your car. In its presentation, Samsung showed off a Coming Home function, which allows you to prepare your home for your arrival at a touch of a button.

This includes adjusting the thermostat, turning on the lights, starting the washing machine and activating a robot vacuum. With geolocation and geofencing, the system will even ask you when you’re within a certain range of your home if you would like to open the garage door.

SmartThings aside, Samsung also revealed its Digital Key, which not only allows you to unlock the doors to your home, but also to your car. According to the company, the function relies on ultra-wideband (UWB) technology for interaction between your phone and the car, allowing the latter to unlock itself as soon as you reach the door, no tapping needed. However, near field communication (NFC) will be used for phones without UWB.

The feature can also be shared to other smartphones, regardless of brand or platform, in a seamless manner – this can also be done across long distances. The company is working with the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCS) and FiRa Consortium to standardise UWB and digital key technology, making them more readily available, secure and shareable.

With the car and phone linked via UWB, and the use of augmented reality, it’s also easier for owners to locate their vehicles, says Samsung. Carmakers that are partnered with Samsung on UWB and digital key technology include Audi, BMW, Ford and Genesis, with the feature set to be available after August 2021.

Samsung’s announcement comes several months after Apple presented its CarKey feature, which initially uses NFC technology, but will later support UWB – via its U1-equipped devices – later this year.

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