Smartphone users have gotten accustomed to using their devices for an ever-increasing range of tasks, from making payments and watching movies to tracking their fitness and controlling their home heating systems.
Now, a new digital standard has been introduced that will lay the foundations for smartphones to be used as an alternative to car keys in future, allowing drivers to lock, unlock, start the engine and share access to their car from their mobile device.
This has been achieved through the work of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), a group of leading businesses working to enable seamless mobile-to-vehicle connectivity. It includes tech firms such as Apple, LG, Qualcomm, Panasonic and Samsung, as well as carmakers like Audi, BMW, General Motors, Hyundai and Volkswagen.
Version 1.0 of the new Digital Key specification lays out a deployment method that provides vehicle manufacturers with a standardised, secure method of securely transferring digital key implementation to a smart device and activating it using NFC technology.
The next version, 2.0, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019 and will provide a common authentication protocol between the vehicle and smart device, helping to reduce development costs for adopters and ensure interoperability between different smart devices and vehicles.
Mahfuzur Rahman, president of the CCC, said: “I'm enjoying this exciting journey with the CCC community as we change the way that drivers access any vehicle, and add further to the key functions that smart devices enable in our lives.”
Once it enters the mainstream, this technology could have a number of useful applications. Not only will it make it easier for drivers to get the most out of their vehicles, but it would also make car sharing and renting considerably simpler, as the digital key could be transferred to the new driver in an instant.