As digital keys become more widely used among car owners, a consortium of auto and phone makers are working to ensure that people can trust that this new technology is secure and will always work across multiple devices.
The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) is an industry group that includes most major car companies, like Ford, GM, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz, as well as phone makers like Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi. The consortium announced a new certification program for digital keys that use near-field communication (NFC). NFC-equipped phones must be tapped against the car’s door handle to unlock it, rather than using a key or key fob.
“A global compatibility of products and services for a seamless experience… regardless of car or device.”
The CCC Digital Key Certification is intended to establish a “global compatibility of products and services for a seamless experience… regardless of car or device,” the group states. In this way, consumers can be assured that the technology will always work, even as they cycle through new phones or new cars.
Car and device makers submit their products for testing to the CCC to ensure that it meets all its criteria for safety, security, and interoperability. If they pass, they receive a certificate and the group’s logo can be used in marketing materials to ensure consumers that the device meets all of CCC’s digital key standards.
“The CCC Digital Key Certification is a critical piece we’ve needed for a universal standard to be possible,” Glen Stone, the technical director of the Car Connectivity Consortium, said in a statement. “The certification not only bolsters a CCC Digital Key product as credible, but it also validates that the product will work seamlessly with other CCC Digital key solutions in the ecosystem.”
The certification is only intended for devices that use NFC technology. The CCC just formed a working group with FiRa Consortium, a nonprofit that supports ultra wideband (UWB) and includes Apple, Google, Cisco, Samsung, Qualcomm, and others as members. Through this process, the two groups hope to develop a certification process for UWB, as well as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
Unlike NFC, UWB and BLE allow for passive entry and start, meaning users don’t have to tap to unlock and can use their devices at a greater distance. That means you can keep your phone in your pocket to unlock and start your car — much like some modern key fobs and key cards. Most modern smartphones are equipped with all three technologies.