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Using your phone to unlock your car is now one step closer to reality

Lincoln Aviator Phone as a Key

A keyless future is coming closer to fruition now that the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) has published the Digital Key Release 1.0 Specification. The document offers a peek at how tech companies could standardize the use of smartphones to both lock and unlock any car, as well as start its engine and share access to the vehicle. The CCC, whose members include both Apple and Samsung, is looking to leverage technologies like Bluetooth and NFC in order to bring the new standard to life.

In particular, this first stab at a solution offers a secure way for customers to “download” a digital key straight to their mobile device. It would then utilize NFC connections to actually get into and start the car. The technology is also said to use a “Trusted Security Manager” system in order to add some extra protection to the digital keys on your smartphone. After all, if your phone could unlock your car, you’d be losing a whole lot more than your contacts and photos if it were misplaced or stolen.

In addition to Apple and Samsung, the CCC also boasts a number of big name car companies among its ranks, including Audi, BMW, General Motors, Hyundai, and Volkswagen. So if this specification were to be implemented, it would be likely that a large proportion of the cars on the road would soon have access to this smartphone entry system. Indeed, a number of car companies have already pledged  that upcoming models of their automobiles will depend upon smartphones rather than physical keys, including Audi, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and Volvo.

“By standardizing a Digital Key solution that complies with our security standards we lay the building blocks for innovative services on a broad basis,” said Ulf Warschat, head of Body Electronics at Audi.

The CCC is now hard at work on Digital Key 2.0, which is slated to be released in 2019. It should offer a “standardized authentication protocol” for phones and cars, and ensure that various cars and smartphones are all compatible with one another.

As Alexander Maier, a BMW executive noted, “Leveraging all benefits of Release 2.0 will enable a scalable solution, interoperable with all smart devices and vehicles delivering a superior user experience to our customers.”

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