The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), an organization dedicated to creating ubiquitous connectivity solutions between vehicles and mobile devices, has announced the Digital Key Release 1.0 Specification, which defines a standard that would allow drivers to download and store a digital key on their smartphones. Apple is part of the CCC, alongside car manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, General Motors, and Hyundai, and Volkswagen, as well as other technology companies including LG, Panasonic, Samsung, NXP, and Qualcomm.
The digital key spec defines way to securely transfer a vehicle key onto a smart device such as an iPhone, which can then be used via NFC to lock or unlock a car or star the engine. Keys can also be easily securely shared with other smartphone users.
The application of the spec would go beyond personal consumer vehicles with uses in car sharing and car rental services as well. While some of these already implement their own server-based keyless entry systems, the new spec would allow for direct communication between a mobile device and the vehicle security system, rather than needing a request to be sent to a central provide and communicated back to the vehicle over a cellular data network.