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14 May, 2019 - 22:50 By Jamie Quested

Cambridge technology at heart of digital car key innovation

Digital key Trustonic

Korean car maker Hyundai has harnessed Cambridge technology for what it believes is a game changing vehicle security play.Hyundai’s new digital key app is secured by Cambridge company Trustonic’s application protection safeguard. The digital key will launch with the all-new 2020 Hyundai Sonata in autumn.

Hyundai’s Digital Key is a downloadable smartphone app that can replace a traditional car key by leveraging Near Field Communication to detect an authorised smartphone. 

An NFC antenna is located in the driver’s door handle for locking and unlocking while a second antenna for starting the engine is located in the wireless charging pad in the centre console. 

Once authorised, the digital key allows a smartphone to control select vehicle systems remotely using Bluetooth Low Energy communication. A user can lock and unlock the vehicle, activate panic alert and start the engine within a range of about 30 feet of the car.

The new digital key can be deployed by up to four authorizsd users, facilitating seamless vehicle sharing.  Users’ preferred settings are also stored in the car, so when a user is recognised, the vehicle automatically adjusts settings for side mirrors, radio presets, sound settings, and seat positioning.

Trustonic Application Protection (TAP) ensures that digital key transfer requests are securely displayed to and approved by a genuine authenticated user on a trusted device. TAP utilises a multilayered industry-recognised security approach for communication to and from a customer’s phone.

Manish Mehrotra, director of digital business planning and connected operations, Hyundai Motor America, said: “Hyundai has been a leader in connected car technology for a long time now, with new features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Smartwatch and Smart-speaker integration into our vehicles.

“Digital Key adds convenience for 2020 Sonata owners and allows us to be ready for future shifts in the mobility space, such as car sharing. We chose Trustonic because of their multilayered, industry recognised cybersecurity approach.”

Car owners have a deeper level of access than other authenticated users, enabling them to set vehicle-function permissions and the duration of access for each shared user. 

This enables uses beyond car sharing, such as enabling couriers to access the trunk within a pre-agreed window of time to deliver a package. 

Future uses that the app could enable include car rentals, triggering an alarm when a vehicle travels outside a designated area and remote control of features, such as autonomous parking.

Ben Cade, CEO, Trustonic in Cambridge adds: “Consumers expect to be able to manage their lives on their smartphones and this includes their vehicles. 

“Hyundai’s Digital Key will enable easy car sharing and improved user experiences for drivers and, as international leaders in app security, it’s up to us to ensure this can happen in a scalable and secure way.”

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