The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Open, Sesame: Continental Turns Smartphones into Clever Car Keys

continental (select to view enlarged photo)

With modern information technology and intelligent networking, Continental showcases new comfort and service functions at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show

LAS VEGAS--Jan. 9, 2012: Consumer Electronics Show -- As part of the industry megatrend of information, international automotive supplier Continental is focusing on a very special key experience at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Continental is showing how car drivers will be able to open and start their vehicles in future by using their cell phone. For this purpose, one of the market leaders in electronic vehicle access systems is developing a virtual car key integrated in a mobile phone that wirelessly swaps data with the chosen vehicle. This key within a cell phone also makes it possible to personalize vehicles and exchange information to an extent never before seen, and paves the way for new, intelligent mobility concepts. "The secret of success for new innovations in the automotive industry continues to be derived from ease of use, intuitive operation and a way of functioning that seems almost like magic. More and more often, the basis of these innovations is the ever tighter networking of the consumer electronics industry with the automotive industry, and the digital car key in the cell phone is an excellent example of just that," explains Helmut Matschi, Executive Board member of Continental AG and head of the Interior division. "Various information channels play an ever greater role in our lives, and Continental makes sure that, thanks to intelligent processing of information, drivers can concentrate on what's important -- driving the car."

The technology for the key experience

The virtual cell phone car key hinges on a forge-proof data packet stored in encrypted format on the cell phone's SIM card. The actual access authorization is checked and exchanged between cell phone and vehicle via a wireless interface (Near Field Communication -- NFC). The data is transmitted over a very short distance from a transmitter in the phone to a NFC reader in the vehicle. A receiver in the dashboard then verifies the digital key in the cell phone when the car is started.

Key technology for many new functions expands Simplify your Drive

With its Simplify your Drive concept, Continental has already demonstrated that networking different vehicle domains with an optimized human machine interface creates a whole new driving experience. Thanks to the networking of the various systems, a wide variety of functions can now be adapted to the driver's preferences automatically with the cell phone key. The individual settings for the infotainment system, such as favorite radio stations, popular navigation destinations or preferred internet applications from AutoLinQ are connected with the key. With the help of an app, the location of a parked car will be saved automatically, creating a car finder tool out of the cell phone -- particularly useful in large parking lots and when sharing one car. When NFC technology is used, the cell phone can also be charged wirelessly during travel. Continental is offering vehicle manufacturers a package of hardware, software and infrastructure services. Continental is working with telecom companies to deliver services like Deutsche Telekom's "mobile wallet" for storing and organizing the electronic car key in the cell phone. This enables customers also to organize their bank account or credit card data and to pay car sharing or car rental services.

Key stimulus for establishing new mobility services

Together with its partners, Continental is using its new key technology to help out with the growing number of innovative mobility concepts that rental cars and car-sharing rely on. With all these projects, handing over the vehicle key has constituted one of the most sensitive and often complicated points. After all, even though people can locate and reserve a car on the internet at any time, day or night, they still have to somehow get the key from the person who last used the car. Nowadays, at least some special safety boxes or mailboxes are required, but with the technology from Continental and the mobile wallet of Deutsche Telekom, internet access does the trick. After the customer has selected a vehicle on the website and received a confirmation notice the temporary digital key from Continental and the drivers profile is loaded onto the cell phone's SIM card via a secure data link. At the same time, the cell phone receives the license plate number and the location of the car. At the Continental hospitality salon during CES, Continental will demonstrate just how easy such a car sharing system could be to operate in the future using NFC technology.

Information holds the key to the vehicle functions of the future

Whether it is intelligent tires, predictive transmission controls, intelligent accelerator pedals or digital car keys in mobile phones, Continental is working with automotive manufacturers all over the world to develop products and systems that provide solutions for future mobility concepts for greater efficiency, safer road transport and more comfortable driving with the help of state-of-the-art information processing. "Its portfolio -- and particularly that of its Interior division -- puts Continental in an excellent position to meet the challenges of the future in the fields of information processing and presentation," commented Matschi.

Continental will showcase a version of this technology during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, January 8-13, 2012. Continental will host a private hospitality salon during the event, and executives will be on hand for on-site interviews to share additional information about these and other Continental technologies.

With sales of EUR 26 billion in 2010, Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has approximately 164,000 employees in 45 countries.