MyKey lets parents program safety features into car keys

Ford’s new MyKey technology, which imposes restrictions on young drivers through programmable car keys, is coming soon to Canada.

Richard Neumann, technical support manager at Ford of Canada, provided a demo of the technology for Computer World Canada at Ford Canada headquarters in Oakville. (Watch the video below.)

The 2010 Ford Focus will be the first model to feature MyKey, said Neumann, but the technology will extend to all 2010 Ford vehicles as standard equipment.

When you insert the key into the ignition, the car identifies whether you are the administrator or the MyKey driver and applies the corresponding settings.

MyKey settings include limiting speed to a maximum 130 kph, hearing chimes at designated speed points, limiting radio volume and preventing the driver from turning off other safety features.

But the best part of MyKey, according to Neumann, is that the radio won’t play if the seat belt isn’t buckled.

“It takes the place of the parent in the passenger seat and it does those three things that the parent would say: buckle up your seat belt, watch your speed and turn the radio down,” he said.

Another feature is advanced warnings. A vehicle that normally indicates low fuel at 80 km to empty, for example, will provide a warning in advance, he said.

Even the most tech-savvy kids can’t crack the technology, according to Neumann. “They’d have to use the same software and computers that the dealerships use to reflash the modules within the computer, so they‘d have to be Ford technicians pretty well to do that,” he said.

But even if they did, MyKey also tracks mileage, so parents would know. “If they have borrowed your key or let’s say they’ve made another one, the system would not accumulate the MyKey miles, so [you] would know that they are using the vehicle but the miles aren’t accumulating,” he explained.

MyKey also keeps track of how many keys are programmed to the vehicle. “If they bought a third key, it would tell me they are using three keys and I would know they are bypassing the system,” said Neumann.

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