As automotive intelligence accelerates, digital keys are sparking a global trend. From an ecological standpoint, the technological innovation brought on by the deployment of digital keys will revolutionize travel and user experiences, redefining the interaction between people and cars.

Bluetooth® technology plays a crucial role in car access control. According to the 2024 Bluetooth Market Update, 100 percent of new smartphones include Bluetooth digital key-enabling technology, allowing car owners to easily experience keyless entry, starting, locking, and other security features through their smartphones.

Currently, many Chinese companies along the industrial chain are flocking to this field. Shenzhen RF-star Technology Co., Ltd., a provider of IoT wireless communication solutions, has extensive technical expertise in the digital key domain and has served numerous local automobile manufacturers. Recently, I met with Qianqian Wen, product manager of RF-star, to discuss digital key market trends and the role Bluetooth technology will play in the intelligent vehicle ecosystem.

Q&A With Qianqian Wen From RF-star

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In recent years, the new energy vehicle market has grown rapidly. How do you view the importance of digital keys and market trends?

The digital key serves as the first connection point for users to experience intelligent cars. At this connection point, security, reliability, convenience, and interactive comfort are all indispensable. The success of the digital key experience design is crucial for car user evaluations and plays a key role in deepening the connection with users. With the maturity of technologies like Bluetooth® Low Energy (LE), near-field communication (NFC), and ultra wide band (UWB), digital keys are entering a period of rapid growth, and integrated solutions will become the market mainstream.

What are the technological advantages of Bluetooth technology in digital key solutions?

RF-star chose Bluetooth® technology to develop car digital key solutions, primarily because of its low power consumption, high reliability, and broad device compatibility. Bluetooth technology provides stable wireless connections and supports various smart devices like smartphones and smartwatches, enabling users to remotely control vehicles through these devices for keyless entry, starting, and other functions. Additionally, Bluetooth technology’s low power consumption helps extend vehicle battery life and reduce operating costs.

RF-star also values Bluetooth technology’s iterative capabilities. For example, the upcoming channel sounding feature improves the positioning accuracy of Bluetooth Digital Key solutions and protects the system from relay hijacking. It may become a cost-effective preferred technology in the digital key domain in the future.

With the upcoming release of the Bluetooth Channel Sounding feature, what positive impacts do you foresee for digital key solutions? How can it address existing challenges and further drive the development of intelligent vehicles?

The release of Bluetooth® Channel Sounding is expected to enhance the performance of digital key solutions, particularly in precise positioning and security. This feature may address positioning challenges in complex environments, improve vehicle identification accuracy based on user positioning, and enhance Bluetooth Digital Key security by preventing relay hijacking. The overall cost effectiveness and rich ecosystem foundation of this new feature may further drive the development of Bluetooth technology in the Internet of Vehicles field, supporting higher levels of autonomous driving technology.

Does RF-star have any further development plans for Bluetooth Digital Key solutions?

With technology evolving and market demands iterating, RF-star will continue innovating at several levels:

    1. Iterating Bluetooth Digital Key experiences based on channel sounding technology
    2. Adapting to iterative automotive digital architectures, collaborating with host manufacturers to implement Bluetooth Digital Key functions within updated technical frameworks, and offering integration options with other manufacturers
    3. Enhancing cross-platform compatibility and interoperability of digital key solutions to provide users with a wider range of choices and more convenient services.

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