BMW wants to turn your smartphone into your car key

Just like CES has seen an influx of car manufacturers in recent year, MWC, too, is now a showcase for new in-car technology. Like in previous years, BMW once again set up shop in Barcelona this week to show off some of its most recent innovations, all of which bring together some of the current and future technologies that the company believes will change the way we will drive in the near future.

The flashiest of the demos the company is exhibiting at MWC is an autonomous i3 electric car that you can summon by phone. Once it arrives, you take a seat in the back and make use of the car’s rear seat entertainment system while the car whisks you away (and indeed, in the highly controlled demo, there is nobody in the driver’s seat). The entertainment system also lets you control some of the vehicle’s functions like a headlight flasher, door locking and unlocking, and — for good effect — the horn. Once you make it to your destination, you get out, lock the doors and the car heads off to find a parking spot for itself.

It’ll still be a few years before all of this becomes routine and available for purchase. In the very near future, though, you will be able to use the BMW Digital Key to lock/unlock your BMW and start it up. One nifty feature here is that you’ll be able to share your digital key with up to five other people. This feature is currently scheduled to become available for BMW drivers in July 2018, though for now, it’ll only work with Samsung smartphones.

BMW is also using MWC to announce that it will bring a second eSIM to all of its cars (in addition to the one that has been in all BMW models since 2016) so that drivers can link their existing mobile phone contracts to their cars, for example. That way, the car can receive calls directly, for example, or use their existing data contract for adding a WiFi hotspot to their car. Just like many new smartphones will soon allow you to use two or more eSIMs to connect to different network providers, so will your next car.