Continental Enhances Car Key System

The automotive supplier Continental supplies vehicle manufacturers with a wide-ranging portfolio of secure and reliable solutions for accessing vehicles and starting engines. Continental is heavily involved in the ongoing enhancement and development of innovative car-door access and engine-start systems.

The automotive supplier benefits from many years of experience in this domain. Continental supplied the first electronic immobilizer back in 1994 and the first PASE (passive start and entry) keyless start and entry system in 1998. Since then, PASE has been enhanced with significant improvements such as bidirectional wireless communication. Continental currently supplies the fourth PASE generation to vehicle manufacturers.

Security and reliability are top priorities for Continental when it comes to locking and identification solutions. This is why only technologies with proven stability and a high level of protection are used for evaluating and developing these kinds of solutions. The engineers focus on anticipating and actively preventing possible attacks.

Yet another important aim of these developments is to further increase driver and passenger convenience in the future. A system that is currently being worked on and implemented is one that automatically recognizes the driver as he or she approaches the vehicle. The system can then activate the interior and/or exterior lighting, for example, to allow the driver to locate and access the car more easily in the dark. This also means that personalized features such as seat position, air-conditioning settings, and entertainment preferences can be activated before the driver even enters the car.

The Approach Unlock solution can unlock and even open the car door slightly if required as an authorized person approaches the vehicle. The same system can also automatically lock the car after the driver has exited and walked away from the vehicle.

When designing and implementing new access solutions, Continental naturally also factors in the smartphone and other on-trend mobile devices such as smart watches. The Gateway Key is an example of just how the automotive supplier is combining convenience and security in these solutions. The vehicle key carried by the driver takes on the role of an intermediary here. It is connected to the vehicle via a secure wireless standard that is suitable for automotive use, which enables it to then receive commands from a smartphone or smart-watch app, for example, using Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE, also known as Bluetooth Smart). Unlocking the doors and opening the windows, amongst other vehicle functions, can therefore be remotely operated using an app. The developers are also planning to incorporate NFC (near field communication), which is available in many smartphone models.

The solution also involves bidirectional communication between the vehicle, the Gateway Key, and the smartphone, meaning that the transmission path can also upload information from the vehicle to the mobile end device – including GPS data of the current vehicle position, whether it is locked or unlocked, or more in-depth information such as tire pressure, the amount of gas in the tank, and much more besides.

Another possibility in the future may be offered by adaptable keys -that can be used as so-called “leisure keys.” An example of this is the Shadow Key, which turns individual hardware, together with the smartphone, into a key. The smartphone display becomes a means of entry and is loaded via the NFC interface. This is a possibility for both current models and new types of vehicles.

The solutions are an example of Continental’s philosophy, which currently sees Smart Device Integrated Access System solutions as a complement to the “traditional” access control and start systems. With these solutions, Continental is proving once again that it is developing anticipatory and innovative solutions that respond equally to car users’ desires for maximum convenience and the justifiably high demands associated with the protection against unauthorized use.

Continental develops intelligent technologies for transporting people and their goods. As a reliable partner, the international automotive supplier, tire manufacturer, and industrial partner provides sustainable, safe, comfortable, individual, and affordable solutions. In 2014, the corporation generated sales of approximately €34.5 billion with its five divisions, Chassis & Safety, Interior, Powertrain, Tires, and ContiTech. Continental currently employs more than 205,000 people in 53 countries.

Information management in and beyond the vehicle is at the very heart of the Interior division. The product portfolio for different types of vehicles includes: instrument clusters, multifunctional and head-up displays, control units, access control and tire-information systems, radios, infotainment systems, input devices, control panels, climate control units, software, cockpits as well as services and solutions for telematics and Intelligent Transportation Systems. The Interior division employs more than 36,000 people worldwide and generated sales of over €7 billion in 2014.

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