Technology and Culture: Could Smart Phones Make Keys Obsolete?

Could smart phones make keys obsolete?

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Yes, say Matt Richtel and Verne Kopytoff of the New York Times. In their recent article, “Tools of Entry, No Need for a Key Chain,” the writers show how technology related to smart phones is beginning to take away the need for keys. And not just keys. Before too long, you may be unlocking your car with your phone, not that keyless entry device that hangs on your keychain. In fact, on freezing cold days, you may be turning on your car and its heater from a distance, so it’s nice and toasty by the time you get to it.

I’d be inclined to think that the vision of a keyless, smartphone permeated life is a bit overdone, except for what we’ve seen happen to hotel keys in the last few years. It wasn’t all that long ago when hotel guests were given keys to their rooms. Today, hotel keys are virtually obsolete, except for in classic inns and inexpensive motels. Instead of keys, you get those little plastic magnetic keycards.

Ah, but even these may soon be obsolete. Here’s what Richtel and Kopytoff report:

In an eight-month trial that ended last month using N.F.C technology, visitors to the Clarion Hotel in Stockholm were invited to use their phones to gain access to their rooms. [Note: N.F.C. technology allows you to wave your phone near a lock in order to unlock it.]

On the day of their arrival, guests received a text message with a Web address where they could check in. After the check-in process was complete, the hotel sent an electronic room key to the guest’s mobile phone. The guests loved it, said Tam Hulusi, senior vice president for strategic innovation for HID Global, a smart card company that, along with its parent, Assa Abloy, a Swedish lock maker, participated in the test.

He said that mobile phone keys could cut costs for hotels by doing away with plastic key cards and by reducing the staff needed to check in guests. The company is also testing such keys at offices and universities.

So what do you think about a keyless world? An improvement? An opportunity for Big Brother? Or does it get a big yawn instead?

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  • Tom

    We don’t have a smart phone, and our cell phone only gets turned on for that portion of long trips that we’re on the road.  Maybe the hotel can send someone to open our room every time we need to get in.  That’ll be cost effective!


  • Anonymous

    Just don’t get caught breaking and entering.

  • In future we will probably be able even to feed ourselves through mobile phones..they have invented so many technologies and adds for cell phones..

  • Anonymous

    Well, who knows?

  • Callmesane

    hahaha thats we get from leaning too much on technology. but come to think of it. technology doesnt elicit too much negativity as long as we are good in dealing with it. and hey! do you guys know that there are iphone
    ? i just did