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Car Connectivity Consortium To Usher In Smartphone-Based Digital Key Access Technology

The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) has announced that it has published the Digital Key Release 1.0 specification. That specification is a standardized solution that is designed to eliminate the keys and fobs we all carry for our cars today and replace them with a digital version that lives on your smartphone. The CCC counts among it some major tech firms and major automakers, and the critical mass certainly appears to be there to make digital keys a reality in the future.

Participating members of the CCC include charter members Apple, Audi, BMW, General Motors, HYUNDAI, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung, and Volkswagen. The CCC also has core members that include major hardware manufacturers in the smartphone and automotive industries including ALPS ELECTRIC, Continental Automotive GmbH, DENSO, Gemalto, NXP, and Qualcomm Incorporated.

The Digital Key spec uses NFC to communicate with the car and promises what the CCC calls a "robust ecosystem" of interoperable digital key use cases that will allow drivers to lock, unlock, start the engine, and share access to cars using smart devices like an iPhone or Android phone. The system will incorporate reliable user authentication methods to protect the cars and digital keys.

Digital Key is a secure system allowing automakers to transfer a digital key implementation to a smart device via a Trusted Service Manager infrastructure. That infrastructure takes advantage of NFC distance bounding and a direct link to the secure element of the device. Some use scenarios that are envisioned with the new digital keys are car sharing and rental services and key free operation for vehicle owners.

CCC is already working on Digital Key 2.0 specification that adds a standard authentication protocol between vehicles and a smart device. Digital Key 2.0 is expected to be published in Q1 2019. Automaker Audi is already offering Digital Key service to owners and VW plans to roll the feature out soon as well. You can check out CarConnectivity.org for more details. 

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