Virtual car keys – unlock your car with your mobile phone

Last updated: 05 July 2017


Imagine if access to a vehicle could be shared in a convenient, secure and seamless fashion, without giving away a physical set of car keys. The rise of virtual car keys, where access to a vehicle is stored in the cloud alongside other data, can make this dream a reality. The implications are significant for car rental businesses and sharing schemes.

With Valeo InBlue™, which we’re proud to say uses the Gemalto Allynis Trusted Services Hub security solution, you can access your car with a smartphone or connected watch. The Valeo InBlue solution is available on Android and iOS and allows you to start and turn off your car, as well as control applications and check car data. It works via on-board equipment, which is linked up to a Software Development Kit, hosting the VCK in the cloud.

Virtual Car Keys

As you can see in Valeo’s video below, the virtual car key is set to bring lots of benefits to consumers. The app is simple to use and convenient for drivers.

We think smart and secure virtual car keys mark the first step towards a driving revolution. Just think about what sending credentials over the air means for car-sharing, whether within the family, or across a wider community. The technology allows you to send a secure digital car key to somebody else, without meeting them. You could book access to a car via your mobile, receiving information on its location and fuel levels, and secure virtual keys to access it quickly and easily. Not only might this enable parents to allow their nanny or kids to use the family car when they’re not around, but it can also alter car rental business models, enabling them to better manage their fleet of cars.

Many industries could reap the benefits of VCKs and the IoT. There is indeed a myriad of new services which could grow from such technology. Delivery companies could use it to deliver parcels to a person’s car trunk while they’re away. Alternatively, VCKs could allow a maintenance team to access the vehicle and fix a technical problem, while the car owner is at work.

The technology also has the potential to control driver profiles remotely, by setting up limits associated with credentials. If the system recognizes the driver has just passed their test, for example, it might restrict the speed limit on the car’s IoT-enabled dashboard and engine, making this person’s driving safer. A geographic area or driving time limit could also be associated with a specific profile, preventing abuses which could get dangerous.

For the full potential of VCKs to be realized, it’s vital we build robust security architecture to protect credentials being sent over the air and stored on mobile devices. Car thefts, particularly when due to a tech vulnerability, can strongly damage brands, costing stakeholders money and resulting in highly disappointed customers. As criminals are continuously adapting to the new virtual landscape, manufacturers need to bear in mind that a car key access is as valuable as the car itself; consequently, cybersecurity solutions must be in place to make sure the virtual keys are sent securely and only authorized people can access the valuable data. The Valeo InBlue solution leverages Gemalto’s Allynis Trusted Security Hub, providing secure Over-The-Air deployment and lifecycle management of applications and sensitive credentials for vehicles. With Gemalto security solutions, virtual car keys are securely sent to smartphones and stored with a high level of security, comparable with current mobile payment solutions deployed with banks around the world.

What are your thoughts on the evolution of the car key? How else do you think driving could change in the future thanks to the IoT? Let us know by tweeting to us at @Gemalto or by leaving a comment in the section below.

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