Hella announces digital car key with UWB technology
Hella, a German automotive supplier, has developed a digital vehicle key based on ultra-wideband (UWB) technology. The Hella Smart Car Access will go into series production for the first time within the next two years.
The new access solution not only uses UWB radio technology but is also based on a smartphone app. HELLA Smart Car Access enables end-users to lock and unlock their cars completely hands-free and also start the engine without having to pick up a key or a smartphone. The mobile device is automatically detected and recognised by the vehicle from a distance of 50 metres. As soon as the driver approaches within two metres of the car, it is unlocked. The engine itself can only be started when the smartphone is inside the vehicle.
Access authorisations to the vehicle can be digitally managed and shared on the basis of the HELLA Smart Car Access system, e.g. for car sharing services or for fleet providers. Personalisable information can also be stored in the smartphone to activate additional comfort or individualisation features, such as functions enabling welcome or interior lighting.
"HELLA manufactures around 25 million classic remote keys per year for a large number of reputable car manufacturers worldwide. That means that we already hold a leading position in this market field," says Björn Twiehaus, the HELLA Managing Director responsible for the Electronics division. "Building on our strong technology base, we are now taking the next step with our smartphone-based Smart Car Access by making vehicle access even smarter, more comfortable and more secure, thus taking it to a new level."
According to the company, in order to implement these Smart Car Access functions simply, reliably, and safely, HELLA uses UWB technology. This radio technology for near-field communication is used as a standard in new smartphones. “It is characterised by highly precise, centimetre-accurate locating and, furthermore, it prevents the danger of relay attacks, i.e. the unauthorised opening of a vehicle by remote extension. At the same time, the technology ensures that HELLA's system solution does not necessarily require an app and that it continues to function even in situations without a network or internet connection.” The system is compatible with both Android and iOS operating systems.
HELLA successfully put UWB technology in classic remote keys into series production in 2019.
Who Will Be the Next Tech Giant to Back Bitcoin?
PayPal was the first truly major tech giant to throw its weight behind Bitcoin, unveiling a cryptocurrency buying-and-selling service in October. Next was Tesla, which shocked onlookers in February by announcing the purchase of $1.5 billion in bitcoin, as well as plans to accept the cryptocurrency as payment.
Since then, things have calmed down as far as Big Tech and Bitcoin are concerned (although a number of banks have rolled out cryptocurrency investment services for their wealthier clients). This raises the question: when will another significant tech firm take the plunge and back bitcoin?
This is a difficult question to answer, if only because the bitcoin market is in something of a funk right now. At the same time, regulators worldwide are looking to restrict crypto in the name of curbing money laundering and other illicit activities. Nonetheless, rumours continue to swirl through the sector that a few other important names in the tech industry may be on the cusp of embracing bitcoin, with Apple being the most notable.
Is Apple Buying Bitcoin?
If you tend to spend any amount of time on Crypto Twitter, you may be aware of rumours to the effect that Apple has recently bought something in the region of $2.5 billion in bitcoin.
Such rumours were almost certainly a desperate attempt to boost the price of bitcoin. And given that the market didn’t witness a sudden, dramatic rise (but rather a steep loss), it seems pretty clear that Apple didn’t buy a substantial quantity of bitcoin in the past few weeks or so.
That said, there remains a good chance that Apple will enter the cryptocurrency sector at some point, even if it won’t be adventurous enough to buy crypto for itself. Back in May, it placed a job ad for a business development manager for “alternative payments.”
Such a manager would be tasked with cultivating partnerships with “strategic alternative payment providers,” implying that Apple may be weighing up the possibility of launching its own cryptocurrency-purchasing service (à la PayPal) via Apple Pay.
Needless to say, it would be huge for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency if the Cupertino company were to follow through with this.
Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook?
Rumours have also revolved around possible bitcoin interest from Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, although there’s a little less substance to most of these rumours.
Back in October former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager Raoul Pal predicted that Microsoft (along with Apple) would buy bitcoin in five years. Unfortunately, a CNN interview with Microsoft’s Brad Smith in February (shortly after Tesla’s bitcoin purchase) revealed that the company had no plans to purchase crypto, although Smith vaguely hinted that it might one day change its collective mind.
More interestingly, Amazon purchased three cryptocurrency-related domain names back in 2017: amazonethereum.com, amazoncryptocurrency.com, amazoncryptocurrencies.com. Nothing has been heard since then, while a job listing from February of this year revealed that the retail giant may be planning to launch its very own digital currency.
Facebook is another tech firm with plans for its own digital currency (Diem, formerly known as Libra). As for whether it’s likely to turn to bitcoin, a few relatively respected figures within the cryptocurrency industry (e.g. Alistair Milne) did spread rumours in April that the social media company would disclose bitcoin holdings on its Q1 financial statement. This didn’t happen, although Mark Zuckerberg did reveal in May that one of his pet goats is called “Bitcoin,” fuelling further speculation as to his and his firm’s interest in the cryptocurrency.
Risks and Rewards of Cryptocurrency
Again, it’s arguable that some or most of the rumours are generated largely to pump crypto prices. But if bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies do continue to appreciate in value and attract more adoption, it will become increasingly harder for large tech companies to ignore them.
But at the moment, it’s likely that most major tech firms will shy away from actually buying bitcoin, if only because it remains highly volatile and unpredictable as an asset. And as we saw with Tesla, buying a massive chunk of the cryptocurrency effectively turns you into a hedge fund overnight, something which can adversely affect your stock price if bitcoin goes down.
Even so, there’s clearly a considerable amount of money tied up in the cryptocurrency market. And with numbers of holders growing every year, it’s only a matter of time before other big tech firms attempt to siphon off some of this value for themselves.