A New Era

Jan. 15, 2020

Back in 1979 Mercedes introduced a new key system in North America. Grooves were milled onto the surface of the key instead of completely cutting through the blank. Locksmiths called these keys laser or sidewinder keys. This signaled a new development in vehicle security. Because of their rarity, very few locksmiths tried to learn how to service Mercedes sidewinders.

During the next decade a few more high-end imports began using sidewinder keys and in addition GM introduced the first VATs keys on 1986 Corvettes. GM continued security changes by using key fobs for some models. By the turn of the century a mix of key fobs, sidewinders and keys with a combined mechanical blade and electronic keyhead became commonplace. For example, Ilco offers approximately 170 different fobs and combination key blades with electronic keybows. Fobs developed during the last decade can operate door locks and activate ignition systems once they are in close proximity to the vehicle with no human interaction.

The next decade will signal the introduction of cellphones as universal credentials for every purpose. Tesla introduced their Model 3 in 2018 which uses a cellphone "key." 2019 Audi A6 models use cellphones as a credential. 2020 Lincoln Navigators will use cellphones as a standard credential. 2020 Lincoln Aviators and a new Lincoln Corsair model will offer cellphone credentials as an option.

Not long ago one of the most popular areas of a Walgreens drugstore was the film development department. Large machines the size of a residential furnace could develop film into photos in an hour. Digital cameras and printers now make picture printing a simple, free job anybody can do in minutes at their own desk. The amount of film requiring development has been greatly reduced.

Lock companies already offer many different types of electronic locks for commercial and residential usage which can be operated with a cellphone. Vehicle manufacturers are now joining the same cellphone credential movement. Just as with the emergence of digital film developing, cellphones will certainly affect our business in some way. Each issue of Locksmith Ledger is filled with new ideas of vertical markets which will help ensure the importance of locksmithing for years to come.