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updated 9/24/2008 10:25:09 AM ET 2008-09-24T14:25:09

A new Japanese mobile phone will automatically unlock the doors of its owners' cars and let drivers start their engines without using an ignition key.

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The phone, built by Sharp Corp., uses a technology previously developed by Nissan Motor Co. called "Intelligent Key" that allows drivers enter and start their cars without removing their keys from their pockets or bags.

Cars equipped with the system sense when the correct key is nearby, automatically unlocking their car doors, and allow the engine to be started once the key is brought inside the car. Nissan said it has shipped about a million cars with the technology in Japan since 2002.

The new twist on this technology is that it is loaded in a phone. The service will work on the mobile network operated by NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan's largest mobile operator.

The companies said in a joint press release Wednesday they will display the technology next week at CEATEC, a major technology conference in Tokyo. They are continuing development and aim to bring the phone to market sometime after March of next year.

Japanese phones are some of the most sophisticated in the world; most come standard with digital TV, music players, GPS, cameras that double as barcode scanners, and wireless credit cards.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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