The next stage of the smart technology movement is imminent in the form of the ‘smart car key’.

Automotive giant Toyota has announced a pilot launch in 2017 for a ‘Smart Key Box’ for its car models in the U.S. The key box will sit on the dashboard or in the glove compartment of the car, and uses ‘low energy’ Bluetooth to identify approved smartphones when they are in the vicinity.

The technology works with a smartphone app and allows the owner to send codes to selected people so they can be involved in the car-share – known as a “handshake”. Once the code has been delivered, the user will be able to lock and unlock the car doors, including starting the engine, all from their smartphone within a designated time period.

With signs that car-sharing will become a big trend in cities over the next few years, Toyota have partnered with car-sharing service ‘Getaround’ to fund investment into the development of smart car keys.

Volvo is beginning to trial a similar concept that gives car owners the option to replace their car keys with a smartphone app. It has been speculated that Volvo will try and roll this feature out to a limited number of its cars in 2017, and depending on the success will have a wider rollout after that.

With the smart key providing the latest addition to the smart technology movement, the question we are all asking is what what will be next?

For more information, visit www.reuters.com.