Denso says it has invested in Lambda:4, a German company that develops wireless positioning technologies for short-range applications using Bluetooth low energy.

The supplier said investment would strengthen its passive digital key, increasing its location accuracy and user authentication capabilities. This improves safety and security for those using the key on smart devices to enter a vehicle.

Passive digital keys allow approved users to connect their smart devices, such as smart phones, to vehicles without the user ever having to touch a button or open an app. Through the passive digital key, a car can identify when an approved user is approaching; when the approved user is at the car door, unlocking it; and when the approved user is inside, enabling ignition. For this sequence to progress seamlessly, it is critical for the vehicle to be able to quickly identify and authenticate an approved user and pinpoint their location in and around the car.

"As much of society goes digital, we are building a connected ecosystem that bridges the gap between consumer and automotive technologies," said Ron Schubert, director of body electronics systems at Denso. "We believe that personalised passive access to vehicles, owned by individuals or deployed in shared fleets, will help make road travel more convenient, secure and enjoyable for commuters."

The investment is the latest development in the supplier's work with passive digital keys, which goes back to 2012, when it began developing the technology. In 2017, the company acquired InfiniteKey, further expanding the key's functionality.

A pioneer in phase-based ranging technology, Lambda:4 has accrued more than 15 years of experience and patents in ranging and positioning technologies used in complex multi-pathing environments.

"Digitising the world is an ongoing trend. By using standard Bluetooth chipsets, our technology offers a low-cost, universal way to enable location aware applications, like passive access and digital keys," said Roenne Reimann, CEO of Lambda:4.