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A group called the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), made up of various technology and automotive companies, wants to replace your car keys with your iPhone.
The CCC, which notably includes Apple as a charter member, has officially announced Digital Key Release 1.0, a new standardized specification that would allow users to download “digital keys” to their smartphones.
What Are the Benefits?
The digital key specification is described as a “robust ecosystem” that can let users lock and unlock, share access, and start the engine of their vehicles from their smartphones.
It relies on a smartphone’s existing NFC or Bluetooth hardware. Presumably, that means the system will work on any smartphone with NFC or Bluetooth capabilities.
The car-sharing aspect is particularly promising. It could make renting cars or sharing vehicles with family and friends much easier.
The CCC describes itself as a trade group focused on “global technologies for smartphone-centric car connectivity solutions.”
Along with Apple, charter members of the group include automakers like Audi, BMW, GM, Hyundai and Volkswagen, as well as tech firms like Samsung, Panasonic and LG. CCC’s “core members” include Qualcomm, NXP and DENSO.
The organization has already kicked off work on the Digital Key 2.0 spec, which will add a “standardized authentication protocol” between smart devices and vehicles. Presumably, that will add to the versatility of these “digital keys” and increase their usefulness. The 2.0 specification has a tentative release date in early 2019.
When Is It Coming?
As of today, Digital Key 1.0 is available to use for all of its members — including Apple. Some of the CCC’s charter members, like Audi and Volkswagen, already offer or plan to offer digital key platforms to drivers.
But while there are vehicles and devices on the market that already offer digital keys platforms, the CCC’s new specification should help to standardize the platform. In other words, it could ensure that digital keys can function across multiple vehicles and devices, regardless of manufacturer.
It isn’t currently clear when smart device manufacturers, like Apple or Samsung, will implement the technology into their own devices. Of course, with the release of the 1.0 specification, wider adoption of the tech is likely to happen sooner than later.