Science Podcasts

Ask the Naked Scientists SA episode

Fri, 24th Dec 2010

Can a Mobile Phone Unlock a Car?

Cellphone (c) Jamie Barrows

What's a light-year, why is the earliest dawn not on the solstice, is the Sun hotter in South Africa, what causes neuropathy, can batteries short out in my pocket, is there a non-surgical solution to a squeaky voice, can my cell phone unlock my car and why does tapping a cup of cocoa make the pitch go up? Join Dr Chris for this week's festive selection of scientific conundra, on Talk Radio 702...

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It would seem like an excellent addition to keyless ignition and keyless entry systems to tie it into a person's cell phone, perhaps activating it by proximity, like is done with the Prius.

If designed right, perhaps one could even e-mail the key from one user to another so that one could loan out the vehicle.

Of course, that assumes that one's cell phone battery never goes dead, or the phone gets lost or stolen. CliffordK, Sat, 28th Sep 2013

Damn keyless entry and ignition! I have to take this blob thing out of my pocket to press the button, then I get into the car and there's nowhere to put it, so it rattles around on the dashboard or in a door pocket until I get out, and I can't find it. Now the great thing about a key is it's on a ring with my house key and anything else I might find useful, and there's a neat place to put it in the car so I know exactly where it is. And it's one less battery to go flat. The screaming frustration of having a dud battery or a message "key code not detected" just adds to the sheer pointlessness of this ridiculous invention. alancalverd, Sat, 28th Sep 2013

The Prius just detects the key's presence nearby.  No buttons to press...  Just leave it in the bottom of one's pocket or purse, or whatever.

I think the Prius fob, however, may have a built in key, so if it goes bad, one can extract the "real" key.  Then read the owner's manual to try to figure out where the heck to insert it. CliffordK, Mon, 30th Sep 2013

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