Will Smartphones Replace Car Keys?

A large group of tech companies and auto manufactures are collaborating in an effort to replace car keys with smartphone technology. BMW, Toyota, Honda, GM and VW have created a super-group with LG, Panasonic, Bosch, Samsung and Apple to form the CCC—Car Connectivity Consortium.

Recently the group announced their new “Digital Key Release 1.0” specification. This standard is intended to lay out a system for locking, unlocking and starting a car with just a compatible smart device and software.

While it is true that smartphone-vehicle connectivity is fairly limited at the moment, some companies are integrating companion apps that can do things like track and monitor paired vehicles. Volvo is one of these companies. Yet so far Tesla is the only auto maker that lets drivers “throw away the key” completely.

The super group CCC wants their protocol of standardization to offer a very high level of security while also offering lots of user options. The protocol would be based around a technology currently employed by Apple Pay and Android Wallet—NFC or near field communication. As the name suggests it operates over a very short range. It is also more secure than radio frequency chips (like in current keyless entry systems).

The CCC is working on a version 2.0, which is expected to be released in early 2019.