BMW, NXP launch next-generation digital car key

BMW, NXP launch next-generation digital car key

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Ultrawideband (UWB) technology allows very precise and secure real-time localization, much better than existing wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS. UWB is designed to give cars, mobile phones and other intelligent devices a spatial “awareness” so that cars know exactly where their drivers are. For the first time, access to the car via smartphone is just as comfortable as with electronic key rings. Users can open and start their cars while carrying their mobile phones, and safely park and unpark their vehicles remotely via smartphones. In addition, the new UWB chip offers maximum protection against car theft through relay attacks.

In conjunction with the introduction of the new chip, NXP, carmakers BMW, Continental, a number of smartphone manufacturers and other companies in the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) and the IEEE are working together on UWB applications to develop new functions and standardize the protocols and software stacks required for them. The goal of these efforts is to create a global standard for hands-free access to the vehicle and to enable further applications for vehicle localization based on UWB technology.

Industry-wide standards also support the integration of different smart end devices such as mobile phones, watches or other wearables, as long as they have the corresponding software and hardware integrated.

The second generation (Release 2.0) of an NFC-based digital key ecosystem is announced for the end of 2019. An essential feature is the use of a security chip that works isolated from the smartphone’s operating system. This chip also works even if the device can no longer be started because the battery level is too low. In the near future, the Digital Key specification is to be extended by a release 3.0 based on Ultra-Broadband (UWB) technology. In addition to maximum theft protection, this also enables a high-precision position determination between the device and the vehicle. In this way, the smartphone no longer has to be held directly against the door handle to open the vehicle, but can remain comfortably in the bag.

The NXP chip NCJ29D5 is the first of a new generation of UWB chips developed specifically for the requirements of the global automotive industry. Together with NXP connectivity and security solutions such as Bluetooth, Near Field Communication and Secure Element, this technology provides truly secure hands-free access to the vehicle and advances standardization in vehicle connectivity.

In addition to keyless access, such UWB chips open up many other applications such as

  • Short Range Radar – For traffic sign recognition and easy access to the boot
  • Smartphone parking service – via a smartphone app, cars can be “sent off” to park autonomously
  • Vehicle charging – independent positioning of the vehicle on or at a charging station
  • Drive-Through Payment – Localization for secure “payment in passing”.
  • Car as a key: cars get access to the garage or multi-storey car park without an additional electronic key

Related articles:

NXP, Volkswagen demo UWB application fields in the car

Initial specification for smartphone as a car key submitted


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