Imec invents ‘unhackable’ car key


Imec, the Leuven-based research centre, will make electronic car theft via key hacking much more difficult by using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) chip technology.

This problem is one that keeps the car industry – and perhaps also you – awake. A test carried out by the General German Automobile Club (ADAC), showed that 230 out of 237 luxury cars of different makes could be hacked via the key, because thieves were able to manipulate the signals. However, imec has come up with a solution. Thanks to BLE chip technology, which is incidentally also cheap and energy-efficient, the company has been successful in making the communication between contactless keys and keyholes extremely secure. From now on, the smart car lock will only open from a distance of 2 metres. External safely experts are now evaluating the technology to demonstrate its robustness, but Imec also wants to let ethical hackers test the security.


Imec is already working with suppliers and chip manufacturers producing car key technology. The industry hopes, in the longer term, that it will become possible to open your car with a smartphone. Besides contactless car keys, BLE can also be interesting for use in smart door locks, accurate indoor navigation or measuring vehicle tyre pressure.