Need to lend your key? E-mail it, Fraunhofer says

The German research organization is showing technology that lets NFC-equipped smartphones unlock doors, and let one person effectively e-mail a key to another.

Fraunhofer's Key2Share system lets a person send an electronic key by e-mail or text message to another person, who then gets authorization to use a smartphone to open a lock.
Fraunhofer's Key2Share system lets a person send an electronic key by e-mail or text message to another person, who then gets authorization to use a smartphone to open a lock. Stephen Shankland/CNET

HANOVER, Germany--You're traveling and your coworker needs your key to get into your office. Why not just e-mail it?

That's the idea behind Fraunhofer Institute's Key2Share technology, which the German research lab is developing in partnership with Bosch and showing off here at the CeBIT show.

Key2Share uses smartphones equipped with near-field communications (NFC) short-range wireless networking abilities to unlock phones. But because approval to use the key becomes digital data, a person can e-mail that approval.

It could be useful for other situations, too, said Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, a researcher involved with the project. For example, a hotel could send a key to important customers by text message or e-mail so they can bypass check-in. And a company could also quickly revoke access if an employee loses a smartphone then issue new keys as fast.

"It is not that far from being a product, but it is not there yet," Sadeghi said.

To transfer the key, a person sends the recipient a QR code that grants access. To use the key, a smartphone app for the task is required -- and of course an NFC-equipped phone, which today rules out iPhones.

You should have some kind of lock mechanism on your phone today, but needless to say it becomes even more important if technology such as this arrives.

Fraunhofer Institute's  Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi describes the Key2Share system at CeBIT 2013.
Fraunhofer Institute's Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi describes the Key2Share system at CeBIT 2013. Stephen Shankland/CNET
 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Mac running slow?

Boost your computer with these five useful tips that will clean up the clutter.