Publication of Digital Key Release 1.0 specification is announced

Publication of Digital Key Release 1.0 specification is announced
The diagram provides a high level architecture highlighting the focus of CCC efforts including the interfaces to be standardized. Credit: Car Connectivity Consortium

O tempora o mores. Remember when a "phone" was perceived as a device for incoming and outgoing calls? Now the call function is so by-the-way.

The Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), announced on Wednesday a new Digital Key Release 1.0 specification's publication. The spec is desgned so that drivers can download a digital vehicle key onto their smartphones.

The CCC is all about device-to-vehicle connectivity and the spec would surely be a step in that direction.

MacRumors was only one of numerous sites reporting on the publication; the "standardized solution" is available to all CCC member companies.

Charter member companies include big names like Audi, BMW, General Motors, Hyundai, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Volkswagen.

The point of the spec is to create an ecosystem around interoperable digital key use cases. Juli Clover at MacRumors said drivers will be enabled to do the following: lock, unlock, start engine, and share access to their cars using smart devices like the iPhone with user authentication methods.

What's next after Digital Key 1.0? Unsurprisingly, Digital Key 2.0. The latter spec has a target completion date of Q1 2019, said Clover.

Mahfuzur Rahman, CCC president, said in their news release that he believed "the forthcoming Digital Key Release 2.0 will have an even bigger impact on the industry as we meet needs for massive scalability."

As for now, Clover wrote, "Several car manufacturers, such as Audi, already offer Digital Key services to their customers, while others, like Volkswagen, plan to implement the feature in the near future."

Nonetheless, said Engadget's Jon Fingas, "It's going to take a while for companies to implement the feature, so the days of keeping a tangible key in your pockets aren't done yet."

Meanwhile, some sites discussed why the standard could show how technology can inspire transportation business models. Consider the CCC wording in its announcement: The solution enables drivers to download the digital key onto their and use it for any vehicle.

That bit should get startups thinking, in that one can even share access with other drivers.

Jon Fingas in Engadget raised an interesting point. He said brands are starting to offer car sharing as a feature, "whether it's offering temporary access for your teen's night out or renting your car to neighbors. This could make sharing relatively trivial and lower the cost of ownership for buyers who only periodically drive their own machines."

JC Torres in SlashGear had a similar observation. Torres said, "A Digital Key spec will perhaps specifically benefit a particular type of market: rental and car-sharing companies. Digital Key will make it easier to share, transfer, and manage such keys without getting bogged by the logistics of having to deal with individual accounts and whatnot."

Security focused Gemalto has had its say that "digitalization combined with urbanization is also changing attitudes towards transport." Christine Caviglioli, senior vice president , automotive & mobility services at Gemalto, said, "We are convinced the standardization of digital car keys will foster the digitalization of mobility services like car sharing, car rental and fleet management."

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