Smartphones are set to quickly become car keys after the influential Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) published their first Digital Key specification.
The agreement and release straddles members including Apple, BMW, Gemalto, General Motors, Hyundai, LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Volkswagen.
The release of the global standard clears a path for developers and drivers to be able to lock, unlock, start and share access to vehicles from smart devices as developers across industries tool-up to build the NFC based functionality into new cars and handsets.
Known as Release 1.0, the specification “provides a generalized deployment method that allows vehicle OEMs to securely transfer a digital key implementation to a smart device, using an existing Trusted Service Manager (TSM) infrastructure”, the CCC said in its release statement.
“By leveraging NFC distance bounding and a direct link to the secure element of the device, CCC is assuring the highest state-of-the-art security level for vehicle access.”
The CCC said it has also started work on the Digital Key Release 2.0 specification which is slated for delivery in the first quarter of 2019.
That release is being toted as “a fully scalable solution to reduce development costs for adopters and ensure interoperability between different smart devices and vehicles”.
Although many car makers already offer some form of digital key, sometimes proprietary, the agreement on common standards means keys will be able to be securely transferred between users without a physical exchange taking place.
CCC members are also talking up the potential for far more efficient utilisation of vehicles because multiple sets of keys will no longer be necessary for more than one person to get access.
It will also mean less pocket clutter and the ritual of searching for keys put down by people with short memories.
“We are convinced the standardization of digital car keys will foster the digitalization of mobility services like car sharing, car rental and fleet management,” said Christine Caviglioli, senior vice president for automotive and mobility services at Gemalto.
“Gemalto is actively engaged to support vehicle OEMs in rolling out these series for their customers.”
Logical use cases for the digital car keys abound, especially if tied to identiity, rules or licencing for drivers. For example learner or penalised drivers could have their speeds restricted.
The move to release the standard for cars also paves the way for greater adoption of NFC based keys for physical access control to offices, houses and hotels.
Migration of payments and ticketing to smart devices is already well underway, albeit with somewhat less agreement among participants.
In Australia Apple and banks, with the exception of ANZ, are yet forge consensus over how NFC can be used for tap-and-go payments on iPhones amid disagreement on how much of a clip payments participants get from a transaction.
There is more consensus around transport ticketing, with both NSW and Queensland moving towards phone payments through their deals with Cubic.