Smartphone app to beat the hackers
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IF you have keyless entry, a hacker can break into you car within five seconds using eaily acquired equipment to ‘steal’ your radio signal.

German engineering giant Bosch is hitting back with the help of your smartphone and an app which stores a virtual key. Sensors installed in the car recognise the owner’s smartphone as securely as a fingerprint and opens the doors only for them.

It’s called Perfectly Keyless and can be used in cars, entire car-sharing fleets, and commercial vehicles. Bosch believes this system, with its built-in security lock, has huge market potential worldwide.

With conventional keyless entry systems, the car key still needs to be carried by the driver. To open the door and start the engine, it communicates with the car using a radio signal in the low frequency (LF) or ultra high frequency (UHF) range.

Instead of transmitting data via low or high frequency radio technology, the Bosch system uses the smartphone as virtual key and Bluetooth as the transmission technology. This means that the car key can actually stay at home.

Bluetooth plays a key role in the Bosch solution. Together with sensors installed in the vehicle and a special control unit, they form a system that opens the door only for the smartphone containing the virtual key.

The system blocks signals from other smartphones or from electronic devices that manipulate the radio transmission. 

Virtual vehicle keys on smartphones have long been a feature of car-sharing fleets. These vehicles don’t move until their operator authorises entry via the cloud; only then can a user unlock the vehicle, start it, and lock it again using an app.

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This conversation between the phone and the vehicle uses near-field communication (NFC), a wireless protocol for sharing data over distances of a few centimeters.

Users have to take out their smartphone before each journey and hold it up to a marked area on the vehicle. Only then can the system recognise the user and unlock the doors.

 


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Chris Wright
Chris Wright has been covering the automotive industry nationally and internationally for 30 years. Following spells with consumer titles he became News Editor of Automotive Management (AM), Editor of Automotive International, International Editor for Detroit-based Automotive News, and Editor of Dealer Update. He has also co-authored several FT Management Reports and contributes regularly to Justauto.com

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