The Future of Car Locks and Ignition

nissan-keylessignitionIn a perfect world there would be no locks on our car doors and a simple on/off switch instead of the complex ignition switch used to allow turning on the engine only to those who have the matching ignition key. But, alas, we live in a world where we must take precautions in order to keep our property safe, just as we lock up our homes and businesses we must also lock and anti-theft-proof our vehicles. In fact, protecting our cars from being opened by burglars who are after possessions left inside or by car thieves who intend to drive off with our car is actually, at least in some ways, a greater challenge than locking up houses, that’s because a car is a mobile object designed to allow lawful users easy access to the passenger compartment and simple ignition switch operation. In light of the above it becomes obvious why auto manufacturers invest heavily in developing ever more effective car door locks, ignition switches and anti-theft measures (such as different types of immobilizer systems). It seems there is a never ending battle of wits between criminals who want to gain unlawful access to cars and car manufacturers who strive to make their models harder to break into and steal. In this blog item we bring you a preview of what the future has in store so far as car door (and boot) locks and ignition switches are concerned.

High Security Mechanical vs. Keyless Pushbutton

It seems that the future of automotive anti burglary and anti theft measures is moving in two parallel directions. One such course is a direct continuation of the only course of action that was available up until the appearance of transponder keys (“chip keys”) in the late 1990’s i.e. creating ever more sophisticated, hard to pick, mechanical locks operated by impossible to match keys. The other course many car manufacturers are following is equipping their new models with keyless systems which allow access and ignition only to those who supply the right digital codes via Wi-Fi. There are many advantages to keyless ignition systems, less moving parts for instance, but since such systems are only starting to be used it is unclear just what level of long term  security they will provide. Many experts predict that these systems will ultimately triumph over mechanical locks and ignition switches but it is also clear that it will take time until the general public acknowledges their superiority.

Clever, Hard to Match Keys

So far as mechanical ignition switches are concerned the keys to them will keep on having ever more complex “teeth patterns” (a somewhat archaic name to the patterns on a key’s blade which match the ones in the ignition switch, or any lock for that matter, and enable turning). One way mechanical keys are evolving in is using a third dimension, so that keys are no longer just two sided but have patterns on three (or more) sides (imagine a key with a triangular cross section for instance). Since transponder ignition key systems have proven themselves as effective anti car theft measures chips will probably be fitted into all future mechanical car ignition keys.

Not for gadget lovers alone

When we hear about car doors opening and engines turning on by voice commands or through use of apps from smart-phones we may think these are gimmicks which technology gadget lovers alone will use. Well, you may very well be surprised to find yourself using exactly such devices in a car you buy in the future. Car locks and ignition will inevitable incorporate any technology which makes them more user friendly as long as they remain true to what is expected of them, i.e. allowing us to park our cars anywhere while knowing there is little chance that they will be broken  into or stolen.