Bluetooth opens the virtual key to starting cars?

virtualkeystoredContinental is showing a new easier way to start cars and open car doors using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

“Continental Smart Access” and will offer hands free access and start based on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. The car’s backend sends access authorization onto the driver’s smartphone over the air.

BLE offers secure access by transmitting this information from the smart device to the car, which recognizes the valid key and, in the future, will unlock upon approach in order to offer additional user comfort.

After entering the vehicle, the system gives authorization and the engine can be started. The smartphone can also upload information from the vehicle to the mobile device – including GPS data of the current vehicle position, whether it is locked or unlocked, or more in-depth information such as tire pressure, the amount of gas in the tank and much more.

In Continental’s architecture, the smartphone communicates with the Continental BLE terminals. The developers are also planning to incorporate Near Field Communication (NFC) technology into the system.

When designing and implementing new access solutions, Continental not only factors in the smartphone, but other mobile devices such as smart watches.

An alternative to the “Continental Smart Access” can be offered with the Gateway Key. The vehicle key carried by the driver takes on the role of an intermediary offering convenience and security. It is connected to the vehicle via a secure wireless standard, which enables it using BLE or NFC to either receive commands from a smartphone or smart watch app, or displaying vehicle data. It allows for remote unlocking of doors and opening of windows, along with other functions, by using an app.

The solution also involves bidirectional communication between the vehicle, the Gateway Key, and the smartphone, meaning that the transmission path can also upload information from the vehicle to the mobile device – including GPS data of the current vehicle position, whether it is locked or unlocked, or more in-depth information such as tire pressure, the amount of gas in the tank, and much more beyond that.

Continental notes that smartphones are pivotal device for owners. The Multifunctional Smart Device Terminal (MFST) combines wireless charging of the smartphone battery, wireless antenna coupling, and Near Field Communications (NFC).

One key innovation is that these three features do not require a cable connecting the phone to the vehicle. The modular design allows vehicle manufacturers to decide which features they want to offer in their models. Compatible smartphones can be charged in the terminal, saving space and without any tangled cables. Continental’s solution meets the “Qi” standard specified by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and develops also solutions to integrate WPC standards from the AirFuel Alliance.

Over-the-Air Keys

OTA keys, a joint venture between the Belgian company D´Ieteren and Continental, develops and implements virtual key management solutions for car sharing services, fleet operators and car rental agencies. The heart of the OTA keys system is the virtual smartphone key. The smartphone exchanges data with the vehicle using NFC, or the energy-saving standard BLE. The driver uses a smartphone app to book the required vehicle at their convenience. The OTA keys system then sends an encrypted forgery-proof data record to the cell phone. The virtual key is securely stored in the smartphone. It contains the access authorization for the required vehicle. Using the NFC or BLE standard, the cell phone transmits the data (authentication, vehicle and diagnostic data, user profile) to the reader in the car.

Security and reliability are top priorities for Continental when it comes to vehicle access and identification solutions. This is why only technologies with proven stability and a high level of protection are used for evaluating and developing these kinds of solutions. The engineers focus on anticipating and actively preventing possible attacks.

Another important aim of these developments of PASE is to further increase driver and passenger convenience. A system currently in the works includes automatic recognition of the driver as they approach the vehicle. The system can then activate the interior and/or exterior lighting, for example, to allow the driver to locate and access the car more easily in the dark. This also means that personalized features such as seat position, air-conditioning settings, and entertainment preferences can be activated before the driver even enters the car.