Digital Key Release 1.0 Starts & Shares Cars Via Smartphones

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The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) has announced the publication of specifications for Digital Key Release 1.0 which outlines standards for keys stored on smartphones for unlocking, starting, and sharing vehicles digitally. The goal is to provide drivers with a way to ditch their physical keys and add more control from handsets enabled with NFC. The CCC is a joint project between top technology and automotive brands such as Audi, BMW, General Motors, HYUNDAI, Volkswagen, Continental Automotive GmbH, LG Electronics, Samsung, Apple, Panasonic, Qualcomm, and NXP. With the release of Release 1.0 Digital Key specifications, a general framework is in place which should ease the process of improving and developing the platform further.

As to the standards themselves, Digital Key Release 1.0 effectively enables the download of digital keys to a smart device. Those will work exactly like their traditional counterparts but interaction via NFC means it could take a while for them to show up in real-world implementations. That's because it will require compatible hardware for the vehicles themselves, including ignitions mechanisms and door locks supporting the technology. The CCC is hoping to address security concerns by building the solution on an off-the-shelf Trusted Service Manager infrastructure and a direct link to the secure element of a given device. Meanwhile, the consortium has also started work on Digital Key Release 2.0. The second release will introduce a standardized approach to authentication between a vehicle and the driver's device. Moreover, it will focus on ensuring the standardization of interoperability and scalability required to make the systems work as intended.

Once in place, the new framework of standards should make it possible for vehicle manufacturers and third-party vehicle parts manufacturers to create systems that allow for the above-listed functionality. That appears to work similarly to bike-sharing services in that keys could also be easily shared between various drivers if, for example, a vehicle owner wants to loan out the car. How that works with regard to setting limitations for loaned vehicles and restricting the resharing of digital keys, is likely going to vary from automaker to automaker. Standardization does not mean that every system will be built equally or with the same features. Instead, the natural progression of connectivity in vehicles will ensure that whatever manufacturers build will work between the widest possible variety of systems and smartphones.

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