Return of the fob

As smartphones are set to become the new digital car key – where does it leave the car key fob? We have the answer.

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At Vouch.io we’ve been observing tech companies and vehicle manufacturers as they move to abandon the key fob, proclaiming the technology to be “the old way”, insecure and outdated. They declare that the latest and greatest smartphone combined with a brand new compatible car is the way to enjoy the benefits that new digital key technology is bringing to vehicle access. We disagree that the key fob is obsolete, in fact, we’re announcing the return of the fob.

But, it’s 2021 and key fobs are dumb, wouldn’t I just use my phone?!

Yes, current car key fobs are dumb, and also insecure (whoever holds your car key fob, effectively owns the car). They’re also vulnerable to digital theft techniques such as relay attacks where the key fobs radio signal is hijacked, allowing thieves to unlock and start a given vehicle without the need to physically obtain its key.

We do agree that smartphones are the answer to accessing your prized assets in a highly secure and more convenient way. Developing identity based digital car key systems by linking an individuals identity to their smartphone and then linking both their identity and their phone to their car is our day job.

One feature of smartphone based car keys that offers a lot of potential is the ability to easily and quickly share keys with other phone users such as family and friends. But… there is a gap.

What about situations in which sharing a key through your smartphone isn’t appropriate, or possible. How do you provide access to valets, service technicians or other third parties that might need access to your vehicle and still retain the security and peace of mind?

Give them an intelligent digital car key fob!

Didn’t we just discuss how key fobs are old, limited, and insecure?!

They were… but we’ve changed that.

We’ve designed and built an intelligent fob that can be linked to an identity, has no buttons, and can be programmed for quick handover to someone to provide operational access in a highly secure and frictionless way.

The Vouch Key Automotive Fob enables vehicle owners to revoke access at any given time, providing them with full control of who has access their vehicle at all times.

When would I use it?

Whether you find comfort in the knowledge that you can operate your car without issue if your phone has a dead battery, or you simply don’t want to have to take your phone with you every time you’re in the car, a key fob is available.

The initial design though was intended to offer more opportunities for sharing keys with other people who you need to operate your car.

What if someone steals it – do they own the car?

The intelligent fob is linked to the users identity and smartphone. It features a configurable radius and once over that distance will cease to work and require re-authentication, similar to the way smartwatches do with phones now.

The owner of the fob retains absolute control and can revoke access at any time in the same way they do with any other shared digital car key.

How secure is it?

Very. The Vouch Key Automotive Fob utilises the same class-leading technology that powers our smartphone digital car keys.

What if I lose it, will it cost ~$400 like a typical key fob?

No, they cost significantly less than a key fob programmed by your local dealer and can be paired to you and your vehicle again in seconds.

Location aware technologies seem to be the new trend, does it work with those?

It does. We designed the fob for the future and were early adopters of technologies such as Ultra-Wideband and BLE AoX. So, not only do we know who is carrying the fob, but we now know exactly where they are in relation to the vehicle at all times.

Using direction and position finding capabilities we’ve been able to increase security (removing the risk of relay attack) and build features such as distance based automatic unlocking / locking and preference setting.

These types of technology have been key in helping us to realize the next generation of digital key fobs and we continue to invest heavily in developing new features using them.

So, when will this be available?

If you’re a Vehicle OEM, Fleet or Rental company, we’re building these now, so get in touch through our contact page to find out more.

If you’re a private vehicle owner, we plan to launch these to consumers within 2021, click here to subscribe to our mailing list to be kept up-to-date.