Authored by Jeremy McKinney, May 27, 2016 at 9:17 am

On May 24, 2016, the USPTO issued Patent No. 9,351,102 to Apple Inc. entitled “Accessing a Vehicle Using Portable Devices.” The ‘102 patent discloses the use of a “smart” device, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch, to operate a vehicle. More than just another “keyless” car alternative, the ‘102 patent describes a flexible approach that includes the option to create “keys” for secondary users that may limit the use of the vehicle to a set amount or period of time or space.

The ‘102 patent describes a primary device which allows full control of the vehicle. In addition, the primary device could be used to authorize secondary devices, for example, when lending the car to a friend or valet parking. Optionally, these secondary devices may have assigned usage parameters that limit or restrict the manner in which a vehicle's operations can be accessed. For example, the use of the secondary device to operate the vehicle can be limited to a certain period of time such as one hour from transmission of the vehicle access credential, or between the times of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Based on the specification, the optional secondary device usage parameters offers some interesting possibilities such as limiting your children’s use of the vehicle to daylight hours only, or, limiting a valet’s use of the vehicle to within a certain area.

My only question is, will I be able to purchase one to retrofit into my vehicle, or is this going to be an Apple Car exclusive?