BMW Group ushers in next Digital Key generation.

Munich. The BMW Group took a leading role in the
seamless integration of smart devices and the customers’ digital
ecosystem in the early stages. Providing customers with simple,
connected and “keyless” access to their vehicles has been a key area
of innovation. Today, it is already possible to lock and unlock the
vehicle, start the engine and share the key with others using the BMW
Digital Key as part of BMW Connected on the smartphone. But this is
only the first step in a global technological transformation being
shaped and led by the BMW Group. In 2017, the company joined the Car
Connectivity Consortium (CCC), where it is a leader in establishing
cross-industry, standardised technologies and security standards. As a
result of this commitment, the latest generation of a standardised
ecosystem for vehicle access that will enable new functions across
multiple devices and different manufacturers was recently announced.

Global standards for greater interoperability

The Digital Key has the potential to enable a range of use cases that
are not possible with a classic vehicle key, due to the technological
advantages of smart devices. Uniform technology standards are needed
to turn the vision of digital vehicle access into reality. Full
functionality must be available on various customer devices from
different vendors and regardless of the vehicle manufacturer. This is
highlighted by Dr Olaf Müller, head of Development Digital Access
Systems at the BMW Group: “Our customers want cross-vendor
interoperability. Standardisation is the only way to achieve this;
proprietary solutions are no longer beneficial.” The BMW Group has
therefore been driving the creation of a global standard for digital
vehicle access within the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC). Most
well-known smartphone producers and automotive manufacturers have
already joined the consortium. Standard specifications across
industries will also help include all kinds of smart devices,
including phones, watches and other wearables.

Technological specifications for innovative functions

The second generation (release 2.0) of an NFC-based digital key
ecosystem has been announced for late 2019. A key feature is the use
of a security chip that works separately from the smartphone operating
system. This means it also works if the smartphone cannot be started
anymore, because the battery is too low. In the near future, Digital
Key specification will be enhanced by the ultra-wideband (UWB)-based
release 3.0. This will offer maximum anti-theft protection and enable
precise localisation between the device and the vehicle. As a result,
the mobile phone must no longer be held directly up to the door handle
to unlock the car, but can conveniently be left in the pocket. The BMW
Group recognised early that UWB technology would be beneficial over
the long term and suitable for global market penetration. The close
cooperation with partners and the fact that UWB is already finding its
way into more and more customer devices will pave the way for new and
innovative Digital Key features.