Now use your phone as a secure door-key

6 March 2013
Bryan Betts
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Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure IT have developed security software to enable the use of Android smartphones for access control.

On show at the CeBIT trade fair in Hannover this week, the software enables the process to be ‘locked down’, with the ability to both revoke keys and delegate them to others.

The ability to use an NFC or Bluetooth-enabled phone as a key in place of a contactless smartcard is not essentially new, acknowledged Fraunhofer's Prof Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, but the ability to secure those virtual keys, protect them from malware, and make them work more like real keys, does represent a step forward, he claimed.

“One very nice property of our Key2Share app is the ability to delegate keys,” Sadeghi added. “For example, you could allow a colleague access to your office or the building manager access to your apartment, with the ability to set validity limits so they only have access for a specific time period. Keys can be transferred by email, 2D barcode, and so on. They can also be revoked remotely, for instance when someone leaves a company, or disabled during vacations.”

Sadeghi revealed that Fraunhofer – which is primarily a research organisation – is working with Bosch to productise the technology. He suggested that applications might include lockers at parcel pick-up stations, hotels, and car sharing schemes, and noted the importance of using very short-range sensors to ensure that the user really is present.

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