SMARTPHONES ARE THE KEY

iStock_000016484793XSmallIf you think that smartphones have already become the center of our everyday life, stop and think again. It’s already possible to open doors using an app – but we are a long way from seeing widespread acceptance of this in the market. Researchers have developed a piece of software that will make the technology even more secure and versatile.

Smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of our daily lives. The capabilities of these handily sized mini-computers seem almost boundless as we phone friends, shoot holiday snaps, lose ourselves in a new music download or access the internet to obtain the boarding card for our next flight in comfort. Does it not seem logical, then, that we should make use of these constant companions as the key to our cars, front doors or lockers as well?

A few such solutions are already available, but what’s still missing is widespread market acceptance. At this year’s CeBIT trade fair in Hannover (March 5-9, 2013), researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology SIT in Darmstadt will be demonstrating their ShareKey software, a solution which will make the key app concept even more versatile and secure.

“In essence, ShareKey offers two new functions: users can issue digital keys remotely and assign these keys certain user permissions. For instance, I can grant the building superintendent access to my apartment for a short period so that he can open the door for the gas meter to be read while I’m at work,” explains Alexandra Dmitrienko from the SIT. “The solution is built around modern security technologies and can be easily integrated into existing access control systems.” ShareKey sends electronic keys directly to the user’s mobile phone, in the form of a QR code attached to an e-mail or MMS.

So work on making the role of the smartphone even more central in our everyday life is continuing and we can assess with great confidence that some very exotic applications are around the corner. The problem in all these applications is the level of secure use they will offer.