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NXP Paves Way to Ubiquitous Digital Car Keys

March 31, 2020
Through leveraging of NFC and digital security technologies, secure vehicle access becomes possible from more devices.

Enabling smartphones, key fobs, and other mobile devices to securely communicate, store, authenticate, and share digital keys with vehicles, NXP Semiconductors’ Digital Key Solution (DKS) expands the convenience of car access. The DKS enables new features like key sharing, multi-car access, and configurable driving rights. Now, it’s possible for family and friends to share digital car keys via smart devices, or fleet and car-sharing companies to provide keys via the cloud .Built on NXP’s automotive-qualified Secure Element and NFC chipsets, the solution follows the Car Connectivity Consortium’s (CCC’s) Standardization Release 2, an architecture that is endorsed by the world’s leading carmakers, smartphone manufacturers, and electronics suppliers.

The DKS, comprised of NXP’s NFC chipsets and Secure Element technologies, including the new automotive-qualified NXP Secure Element, enables the unlocking and starting of a car with an NFC-enabled smartphone, key fob, or an NFC Smart Card holding a digital key (Figure 1). It also enables the secure sharing of vehicle access with other mobile devices, an advanced capability for the secure car-access ecosystem. It can be seamlessly added to classic remote or passive entry systems.

End-to-end security is enabled by NXP Secure Elements on both the mobile and car sides. Embedded Digital Key applets support ecosystem interoperability leveraging CCC’s standardization. The solution includes NFC technology to trigger car access and driver authorization, even if a phone’s battery is low.

Secure digital key management is also the basis for enabling hands-free smart car access, which will be defined in CCC Release 3. Therefore, NXP is set to combine its DKS with its automotive Bluetooth (BLE) for communication and its recently announced Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology for precise and secure localization.

A critical piece of the Secure Elements security scheme is NXP’s NCJ38A automotive-qualified Secure Element, a dedicated hardware and software platform with advanced cryptographic accelerators and physical and electrical attack resistance. The NCJ38A SE stores security applications and their confidential data.

The software platform is offered to customers as an open Java Card platform together with the NXP Automotive JCOP 4.4 operating system. Optionally, customers can order the generic authentication applet NCJ38xA, which supports a broad spectrum of M2M authentication means, cryptographic keys, and data storage.

The device is based on a high-frequency clocked Arm SC300 core, along with the newest generation of NXP’s cryptographic hardware co-processors and a flash module, bringing secured applications to a new level in performance and security.

NXP Semiconductors, www.nxp.com

About the Author

David Maliniak | Executive Editor, Microwaves & RF

I am Executive Editor of Microwaves & RF, an all-digital publication that broadly covers all aspects of wireless communications. More particularly, we're keeping a close eye on technologies in the consumer-oriented 5G, 6G, IoT, M2M, and V2X markets, in which much of the wireless market's growth will occur in this decade and beyond. I work with a great team of editors to provide engineers, developers, and technical managers with interesting and useful articles and videos on a regular basis. Check out our free newsletters to see the latest content.

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About me:

In his long career in the B2B electronics-industry media, David Maliniak has held editorial roles as both generalist and specialist. As Components Editor and, later, as Editor in Chief of EE Product News, David gained breadth of experience in covering the industry at large. In serving as EDA/Test and Measurement Technology Editor at Electronic Design, he developed deep insight into those complex areas of technology. Most recently, David worked in technical marketing communications at Teledyne LeCroy, leaving to rejoin the EOEM B2B publishing world in January 2020. David earned a B.A. in journalism at New York University.

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