Mike Pless has been teaching people to surf in Southern California for 30 years — and he’s driven nearly that many people back to their homes or hotels after their car keys wound up at the bottom of the Pacific. He has a rule that he passes along to his students before they hit the waves: “If you can’t take it off and throw it in the water, then you don’t wear it out there.”
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A nifty new invention from Jaguar could solve that problem for all the wannabe Kelly Slaters out there. Debuting on the British luxury automaker’s first-ever SUV, the F-Pace, Jaguar’s Activity Key is a piece of jewelry that unlocks your car. The waterproof, shockproof wristband unlocks the F-Pace when pressed against the Jaguar “J” on the tailgate, allowing the owner to retrieve the key fob stashed safely inside.
Nathan Hoyt, Jaguar spokesman, told Cars.com the Activity Key was born of a desire to integrate technology into the automaker’s cars in a unique way, as well as to target the F-Pace’s younger demographic.
“We also find many of these owners lead an active lifestyle — whether that be skiing and snowboarding, rock climbing, running, swimming, surfing, etc.,” Hoyt said. “There are lots of circumstances where an owner may not want to carry his or her key around, whether that’s due to lack of pockets or environmental concerns like potential water damage.”
The Activity Key in its initial incarnation will be a black rubber watchband with a buckle, but there’s no face. It works off of an integrated transponder, which is battery-free, so the owner does not have smartphone-style worries of running out of charge and being locked out of their Jaguar. The chip inside works on the same radio frequencies as the vehicle’s main key fob, which is disabled when the Activity Key is activated.
“On exiting the vehicle and upon [the] last door closing, the owner needs to place the Activity Key over the designated area on the tailgate, which will authorize the vehicle to lock with the standard key still inside the vehicle,” Hoyt explained. “Upon return to the vehicle, the owner can ‘wake up’ the vehicle by pressing the tailgate switch and placing the Activity Key over the designated area on the tailgate, which authorizes the vehicle to unlock.”
As a veteran instructor who owns and operates the Seal Beach, Calif.-based M&M Surfing School, the idea of the Activity Key pleases Pless. He’s seen a lot of gimmicky surfing imagery in car commercials, but this, he said, seems legit. Wetsuit key pockets may look secure, but he’s seen that prove false on many occasions. Likewise, the ol’ wheel-well key stash is just an open invitation for thieves to sail away with your stuff while you surf — as his son, Mike Jr., learned when his BMW X5 was burglarized.
“That would be perfect,” Pless said of the Activity Key. “If it’s a small band, it would probably work really well.”
The Activity Key will initially be offered as a $400 standalone option on the F-Pace; no word yet on whether it will be available on other models in the future. The F-Pace will start at $41,985 for the base model and increase to $70,695 for the limited First Edition; all prices include a $995 destination charge.