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For the Volvo Enthusiast

So Your Phone is your Key, What Happens if it Dies? Volvo’s Thought of That

Volvo, Polestar, and the rest of the automotive industry are very excited about using smartphones as keys for cars. But what happens if your phone dies? A new patent from Volvo seeks to find a solution.

Currently, key fobs all have keys hidden inside of them, so that if the battery dies, there’s still a way to get in you car. With the approach of phone-as-fob, though, Volvo can’t exactly hide a key inside your phone.

The solution? Put a USB port next to the gas cap so that you can recharge your phone.

The idea is to give you a small sticker, Volvo proposes an NFC tag that can be stuck to your phone. This would unlock the gas flap—or anywhere else Volvo chooses to put the little flap—and you could then plug into a USB port.

Not wanting to turn your car into a charging port for any kid with a screw driver, the USB port would only charge your phone enough to turn it on and unlock the car.

Now, it would be nice if this NFC sticker could unlock the car, but Volvo says that that would too unsafe to work. So, if it seems a little layered, it’s only for your safety, according to Volvo.

The patent goes on to explain, at length, that the specifics are not set in stone. So the unlocking mechanism doesn’t have to be NFC, the USB port doesn’t have to be in the gas cap, and so on, but the central idea remains a good one, if you ask us.

There would be nothing more annoying than having to beg for an outlet before your could get into your car and on with your day.

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