Jaguar solves surfers' car key problem

Surfers needn't worry about their car keys under a new technology developed by Jaguar.

Surfers needn't worry about their car keys under a new technology developed by Jaguar.

It is the conundrum of the modern surfer. Since the advent of the electronic key fob, board riders have been troubled by a vexing issue: what to do with their car key while in the water?

Some utilise hidden towels or a hidden crevasse within the wheel arch, others carry non-electronic spares to hide in their wetsuits or leg ropes. There are even lockable safes to stow your key that hang from the tow bar.

In spite of those novel remedies, the issue of security and convenience remains real. Now Jaguar claims to have the solution.

The British car maker has unveiled a new "activity key" in the upcoming F-Pace SUV which is due to go on sale in New Zealand in the middle of 2016. The device is worn around the wrist and uses a proximity sensor similar to technology found on bank cards with a paypass function.

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"What the user can now do is take their regular car key, as well as any valuables such as smartphones and devices, and place the key safely in the vehicle's glove box and storage area," Jaguar technology chief Peter Virk explained.

Jaguar's new F-Pace SUV and the "activity key" (inset). PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

"Once you've done this, you take the activity key and simply walk to the rear of the vehicle and just tap it onto the little "J" of the Jaguar badge on the back of the car.

"It's really simple, it locks the car. Because the system is so secure, the key that is left in the car is actually disabled, so any one who tries to break in and take the car, they actually can't use the vehicle anymore until you unlock it. It makes it safe and practical for everyday use."

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The activity key also unlocks the vehicle by tapping on "J" adorning its rear tailgate.

The activity key is expected to be offered as an optional extra on the F-Pace.

Developed internally by Jaguar Land Rover, the device is rated to pressures of up to 20 metres underwater and is designed not to slip from the wrist during water activities.

"If you lose the activity key you can do a number of things like you would with you normal key," Virk said.

"You can contact your dealership and they will come out and unlock the vehicle securely and safely. It's designed so that you wouldn't lose it, we've designed it to withstand surfing, diving and different activities."

While surfers have been the focal point of the activity key, Virk believes it will be suitable for myriad applications outdoors.

"For us it's multiple activities," he said. "Surfing was the focus of the presentation but for me I do a lot of cycling and I always have the issue of where to put my keys or phone. For me, it's great, I can put it on my wrist, it's lightweight and it's easy to use. Any activity you want to do where you don't have to carry keys is great."

Jaguar Land Rover hasn't provided a cost of the activity key as yet, but says it will be cheaper than the cost of replacing a standard key fob, which is normally several hundred dollars.

"At the moment, it cannot be retrofitted," Virk said. "The focus at the moment is F-Pace, we don't have the real specifics such as costs sorted for each market as yet."



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