A new standard has been released for smartphones to act as car keys and remote starters, which could lead to opportunities in the aftermarket.
An industry group announced a Digital Key standard that will bring together automakers (and aftermarket companies) and phone makers to create a universal way for phones to communicate with cars.
So while many companies already offer remote start from a phone, now Apple could make all its phones work with many different cars. But it may provide a way for aftermarket companies to gain more access to OEM systems.
The Digital Key standard is offered by the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) whose members include Alpine, Apple and numerous car makers.
One aftermarket supplier said, “The digital key is exciting because it signals increased collaboration between manufacturers and developers. In the same way Steve Jobs gave us access to develop apps for the iPhone, this may be an opportunity for 3rd party suppliers and developers to be a part of the connected car story in a uniform, secure manner.”
He added, now, with a digital key, you could have a third party diagnostic app running on your phone. Or you might have an app that allows a family to share “keys” from their phones.”
That said, It’s not yet clear if automakers will allow third party development with the digital key.
He added, “It’s really cool when you look at companies like ours that make apps for cars. It’s just giving us more data and more data is where the opportunity is at.”
With the new standard a consumer would get a digital key on his smartphone that would then communicate with the car via NFC. It creates a passive entry system to lock or unlock the door when the user is in close proximity to the car. The user places the phone close to a sensor on the vehicle (say the door handle) and the door opens without his interacting with the user interface of the phone (but he might be required to open an app on the phone to initiate the process).
It could also permit car sharing and might be used for car rental access.
The CCC has also started work on a Digital Key 2.0 standard to allow more features that could be used by rental car and fleet companies.
To view a white paper on the new Digital Key standard click here.