Using smartphones for monitoring a home remotely is not unheard of, but if the ShareKey system becomes a reality, these devices will also act as smart keys in the future .
The ShareKey system was envisioned by the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology from Darmstadt, Germany. Unlocking doors with a smartphone app isn’t a novelty, either. What the ShareKey system means to bring new to the table are increased security and improved versatility.
First of all, the system generates QR codes that are later used as electronic keys. These codes are sent via e-mail or SMS to the smartphone of the person who needs to unlock the door. Hence, ShareKey would be particularly useful when unexpected guests show up when nobody is at home. Secondly, the system also uses NFC, so phones that do not come with this technology could not be used for unlocking the door. Additional details about this are given below.
Alexandra Dmitrienko, who works at the aforementioned institute on this particular project, stated: “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.”
The system makes use of NFC (Near Field Communication) for sending data from the smartphone to the lock. Implementing the ShareKey system does not require major changes to the already installed access control systems, as Alexandra Dmitrienko explains: “The solution is built around modern security technologies and can be easily integrated into existing access control systems. To open a door, all you need to do is hold your mobile phone close to the lock. And even if this communication is hacked into, it’s impossible for unauthorized people to gain access to the digital key. This is because opening the door requires information contained both in the encrypted token sent to the user and in the app installed on their smartphone.”
It might take a while till such a system becomes the norm in home security, as many people are skeptical about new technologies. They are particularly concerned about hackers who might want to gain access to other people’s homes, but the spokespersons of the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology claim that this is certainly not a possibility, at least as far as their system is concerned.