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Apple to Offer a Little Roadside Assistance? Check This Patent.

Locked out? Reach for your iPhone.

Locked your keys in your car?

Apple may have you covered someday. A newly issued patent describes technology that would allow a motorist to use his or her portable device — say, an iPhone — to gain access to the vehicle, using a short-range wireless connection such as Bluetooth and a special access code.

The patent suggests this device might pass along the digital key to a secondary gadget, which could be used to unlock a vehicle. The illustration that accompanies Tuesday’s patent shows another phone (hey, a single car could be shared by two family members), though the soon-to-be-available Apple Watch might also make sense.

Indeed, tech sites including Mashable reported that the software developers at Eleks Lab have created a version of the Tesla iPhone app that would run on the Apple Watch, allowing users to control basic functions from their wrist — including the ability to lock and unlock the car, turn on its headlights or show where the vehicle is parked.

Eleks Labs

A handful of apps exist to allow consumers to use their smartphones to unlock their vehicles, including ones designed for luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz or Lexus. It’s a common problem. AAA says its roadside assistance program responded to some four million motorists who locked themselves out of their cars in 2012, the last year for which it reported this statistic.

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