Using smartwatch instead of FOB

Using smartwatch instead of FOB

A couple months ago, Electrek featured an article about new Tesla Key FOBs that use Bluetooth Low Energy to communicate between the FOB and car.

My question here is why can't something like my phone or my smartwatch be a replacement for my FOB? Idea here being that if I'm in close proximity of my car, it shouldn't matter if I have the FOB close by in order to authenticate.

My dream here is to be able to have my Apple Watch completely replace my FOB. As long as the watch is unlocked and I'm close-by, the car is unlockable. Otherwise, it's not.

Note: I realize that it's possible to operate and start the car with the Tesla app (or also something like Remote S). Unfortunately, it relies on the Internet in order to issue commands. I wouldn't be able to start my car unlock the doors if I'm in an area without reception.

carlgo2 | November 30, 2016

Sure would be nice to not have to carry keys or to dig a phone out of a pocket. A First World problem for sure, but still....

Tarla's Driver | November 30, 2016

So what protocol do the fobs use? I would love to have something that worked as a fob that would fit in my wallet, even if it had no buttons.

vperl | November 30, 2016

Some advance smart watches have wi-fi connection ability.

Dramsey | December 1, 2016

Tesla could easily do this, and I kind of wish they would. It's not a Bluetooth-WiFi thing; it's just a matter of someone wanting it badly enough. Both the Apple Watch and iPhone are easily secure enough and both could handle this directly over Bluetooth LE without any Internet connection. I'm sure Android phones and watches could do it, too.

jordanrichard | December 1, 2016

Ummm, in order for your phone/smart watch to work you need a cell signal. Your phone should be the back up for when your FOB doesn't work. What will be your back up if your phone's cell signal is weak/non existent or the battery is dead?

mark | December 1, 2016

@jordanrichard You can unlock and start the Tesla NOW using cell phone signal via the app. The point of this thread is to add bluetooth pairing / unlocking support.

That way, the car can be unlocked via phone / watch when there is no cell signal.

djharrington | December 1, 2016

I don't even really see the need for the watch to be unlocked. Someone is more likely to steal my fob than my watch. Great idea! It'd be cool to see it pan out.

jordanrichard | December 2, 2016

mark, I get that. It is also suggested that this Bluetooth pairing be in lieu of having the FBO on hand. Bluetooth is ultimately only as good as the signal your phone is getting. When you are using the app, your phone is essentially calling Tesla which them calls your car. If you have no cell signal, you phone is not going to be calling Tesla. Hell, over the past 2 1/2 years, there have been a few time where the app wouldn't connect to the car, despite having a cell signal. So back to my point, if you are using the Bluetooth capability in lieu of the FOB, what is you backup for the app not working?

Dramsey | December 2, 2016


"Ummm, in order for your phone/smart watch to work you need a cell signal."

Well, that's the way it is NOW. But there's no technical reason for the limitation.

"Your phone should be the back up for when your FOB doesn't work."

I must have missed this in the owner's manual. But seriously: why?

"What will be your back up if your phone's cell signal is weak/non existent or the battery is dead?"

What will be your backup if your fob's battery is dead?

I'm actually not sure what you're getting at here. There's no technical reason that a smart watch or phone can't be all you need to operate the car, even in the absence of a cell signal. The relegation of these devices as "backups" seems a completely arbitrary distinction.

Have you seen the silly touchscreen monstro-fob used in the new BMW 7-Series? I think it recharges on a dock in the car, but don't remember for sure.

jordanrichard | December 2, 2016

If one's FOB doesn't work, say due it's battery going dead, you could break out your phone as a back up get into the car and if need be, start/drive the car. Yes, of course if you have no cell signal that won't work, but neither will this Smart watch idea. The smart watch is paired to your phone which is sending/receive the cell signal.

You are correct, if the code/frequency that the FOB works off of could be contained within the your phone, then yes your phone could replace the FOB. However, you are still putting all over your eggs into one basket.

Dramsey | December 2, 2016

I'm not sure why "putting all your eggs in one basket" is such a concern for you. Many-- most?-- new cars are started with keyless fobs, and almost none of them have phone/watch in these cases the fob is a single point of failure: all your eggs in one basket, if you will.

Doesn't seem to be too big a deal...

djharrington | December 2, 2016

Why can't the car just unlock as soon as a smart watch's BT handshakes directly. You get close enough, the car and watch shake, and it acts as if the fob has gotten near enough? I know nothing about the security of BT, or the likelihood of a BT device being impersonated, so maybe there's a big hole with the thought.

pauljp3020 | December 3, 2016

yes a smart Phone would never be Hacked would it, OOOOPS, forget I said that, a tesla specific radio frequency device,to control features and functions,?? Hmmm, it could have unique coding,unique frequency,unique blocks against hacking, hmmm. Toy stores these days seem to be full of video game toys the size of i-pads, and these one time use devices seem to be cheap in price.

ozellhouse | June 13, 2019

I love my Tesla 3; I'm a runner and do not run with a phone. Key card gets sweaty and some shorts don't have a pocket large enough to hold it. The key fob for purchase doesn't have a ring on it, so won't help me. Any suggestions or plans for my running watch to be able to open the car?

reed_lewis | June 13, 2019

The key card is waterproof, so you do not need to worry about it getting wet.

EVRider | June 13, 2019

There are third-party apps that let you access the car using an Apple Watch, but it’s not 100% reliable because it depends on network access. Both the key card and key fob will fit in even a small pocket, so I suggest you wear running shorts that can accommodate one of them. Sweat won’t hurt the key card, and if you buy a fob, you can put it in a plastic bag (though sweat probably won’t hurt that either).