The platform begins providing safe and secure digital keys for various services in February 2021
Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP) and TOKAI RIKA Co., Ltd. (Head Office: Oguchi-cho, Niwa-gun, Aichi, Japan, President: Hiroyoshi Ninoyu) have jointly developed a smartphone-based digital key platform with a variety of locking and unlocking capabilities. This platform is available for use from February 24, 2021.
In addition to the mobility field including automobiles, this platform can be used to distribute and manage digital keys across a wide range of fields, including retail, logistics, and housing. As the process of digital transformation (DX) advances, a general shift in user awareness from ownership to sharing is anticipated. Following this trend, the developed platform makes various services, such as the locking and unlocking of automobile or house doors, the reception of parcel deliveries via public lockers and more, all available on a single smartphone.
This platform combines the manufacturing and wireless communication technologies cultivated by TOKAI RIKA through its automotive parts’ business with DNP’s high-security information technology, which is an essential requirement for the mobility field. By incorporating the strengths of both companies, this platform eliminates the need for physical keys in various situations and helps people pursue even more comfortable lifestyles in a safe and secure manner.
Left:A user locking and unlocking the door of a shared vehicle.
Right:A home delivery person posting a package into a drop box.
Illustration of digital key usage (from video outlining the digital key concept of DNP and TOKAI RIKA)
The area shaded in blue shows the smartphone-based digital key platform provided by DNP and TOKAI RIKA.
Features of Platform and Roles of Both Companies
The developed platform consists of the FREEKEY Server, which performs digital key distribution and management, and the FREEKEY Platform, which integrates multiple digital key protocols.
(Available from February 2021)
A server that distributes and manages digital keys capable of operating a wide range of locks just using a smartphone.
- Jointly developed by both companies, the FREEKEY Server allows a smartphone to be used as a key for locking and unlocking vehicles, houses, and a wide range of other items. When needed, digital keys can be downloaded rapidly via a smartphone app. These digital keys eliminate the inconvenience of carrying and storing and the risk of losing physical keys. Valid time limits can also be set to enable use as temporary keys for sharing services.
- DNP’s IoST platform*2, which incorporates advanced security technologies cultivated through the company’s development of smart cards and other products, protects the smartphone digital key data from increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, with a particular focus on stopping vehicle theft and the unauthorized use of services in the mobility field.
- The FREEKEY Server also incorporates TOKAI RIKA’s hardware technologies, such as the wireless controls cultivated through its automotive parts’ business, and software technologies including its digital key distribution logic. The resulting technology extends beyond the developed platform and provides a total solution for electronic locks compatible with digital keys.
(Available for use)
A system that allows service providers to use digital keys quickly, inexpensively, and simply through a common API.
- Connecting this system with those from service providers allows digital keys to be used in a quick, inexpensive and simple fashion over smartphone apps and the service providers’ cloud services. A digital key is not simply a key. Digital keys enable a wide range of applications necessary for the realization of smart cities, including authentication, the distribution of electronic tickets, and much more.
Examples of Possible Business Models
Digital keys for services in the mobility field
such as car sharing
E.g.: car sharing between individuals
The platform allows car owners and users to hand over keys at any time without meeting in person, thereby eliminating the inconvenience of having to hand over a physical key and helping to realize smooth and secure car sharing.
Digital keys for services outside the mobility field
aimed for logistics service providers via home delivery lockers, housing developers, tourism, and other service providers.
E.g.: home delivery lockers
Home delivery lockers that can be opened and closed using a smartphone are ideal for non-face-to-face delivery of personal packages, a service that is continuously growing in demand. The use of digital keys to provide safe package drop-off services is convenient for both home delivery service providers, who no longer have to re-deliver packages, and users, who no longer have to restrict their schedules to fit delivery times.
DNP and TOKAI RIKA intend to synergize their mutual strengths in digital key platforms, the applications for smartphones and other different devices to provide digital key-related services for various industries.
In 2023, DNP and TOKAI RIKA plan to develop and release FREEKEY Server Generation 2, which will be compatible with the next-generation global standard specifications being formulated by the cross-industry Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC)*3. The two companies are aiming to grow the sales of their digital key-related business from 5 billion yen in 2025 to 10 billion yen in 2028. DNP and TOKAI RIKA are also currently in the process of constructing an integrated platform equipped with basic functions that can be shared by various services that will underpin the smart cities of the future, such as authentication, payment, the connectivity of personal data, and much more.