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Patents Apple

Apple's "iKey" Wants To Unlock All Doors 383

Posted by kdawson
from the get-yours-at-ikea dept.
Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that Apple is developing technology, already being nicknamed the 'iKey,' which will allow users to gain access to their office and unlock their car or front door with a single electronic device like an iPhone. Users would simply have to enter a PIN and wave the device over an electronic pad fitted beside a door to open it. 'The device can communicate with an external device to open a lock. By way of example, the electronic device may be a model of an iPhone,' says the newly released patent application. 'The external device may be any suitable electronic device such as a portable media player, personal data assistant or electronic lock that may be used to access a door, car, house, or other physical area.' The technology behind the invention is known as Near Field Communication; it allows electronic devices to transmit information when in proximity. 'If true, it's a very big deal. As well as opening doors and unlocking your car, it could also turn your iPhone into an electronic wallet and ID card,' says Leander Kahney, a consumer technology expert. 'The trouble is that the technology hasn't gone completely mainstream. If Apple were to adopt the technology, they would likely set the standard, and that would drive widespread adoption as everyone scrambles to make their systems iPhone-friendly.'"
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Apple's "iKey" Wants To Unlock All Doors

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  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marcansoft (727665) <hector@nOsPam.marcansoft.com> on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:18AM (#31399690) Homepage

    The fourth generation of the iPhone is getting NFC/RFID capabilities, much like some other phones already have.

    This isn't new. The only new thing they could possibly bring to the NFC table would be (gasp) actual security, given that RFID/NFC devices are notorious for being horribly insecure most of the time.

  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:23AM (#31399720) Homepage
    A universal key could never lead to bad things.
  • Is it wise? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:23AM (#31399722)

    Is it wise to have a consumer Internet-enabled(which I presume it would be) device that can unlock physical security? "Keylogger" has a whole new meaning. :p

  • Security? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kingofnexus (1721494) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:25AM (#31399738)
    What happens when someone breaks the security on the device/ technology? A thief would be able to get into your house and rob everything, make an escape in your car, and then empty your bank account all for cracking just 4 numbers. I think I'll stick to the old manual lock and key thank you.
  • Two words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Linker3000 (626634) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:25AM (#31399740) Journal

    Flat battery

  • typical Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pydev (1683904) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:27AM (#31399758)

    An entire industry gears up to create technologies for short range wireless communications in order to replace keys. Several companies already have solutions in the market, but they haven't caught on yet because the technology isn't quite ready yet and not quite cheap enough.

    If things continue along Apple's usual path then: (1) Apple starts patenting the obvious applications of those technologies, something other people weren't even considering because that's what those technologies were designed for, (2) Apple starts adding immature implementations of the feature to their products at a premium price that only Apple customers would be willing to pay and gets accolades for how "innovative" they are, and (3) a few years later when other people are starting to offer mass market products at mass market prices, Apple starts suing them for patent violations.

  • Re:Security? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:29AM (#31399782)

    You have far too much faith in old-fashioned keys. Locks are there to keep honest people honest.

    The real problem is that this is tied to a device which is designed to be replaced every other year. It's far from durable enough to be used as a house key, or even a car key. I'm carrying a wireless car key in my pocket, but I change the batteries on it maybe once a year, and the batteries cost $10. Not only can you not carry a spare battery for an iPhone, but you have to recharge it daily. Completely impractical for a key.

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:35AM (#31399840) Homepage

    You know, with Apple products experiencing something of a resurgence in the past 5-10 years and their popularity slowly increasing, they will eventually cross that invisible line where hackers decide that it becomes worth their time to attack Apple products the way they attack Windows. The fact that people are sold Apple products under the guise of security and not having to worry about compromised hardware/software means they won't see it coming and won't know how to deal with it, either.

    Be careful with becoming too big, Apple Nation.

  • Re:Security? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by biryokumaru (822262) * <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:38AM (#31399870)

    You have far too much faith in old-fashioned keys. Locks are there to keep honest people honest.

    If someone is trying to open my front door with a crowbar, someone else might get suspicious. If they're trying to open it with my iPhone, which would be the normal way I'd open my door, no one would even notice.

    Locks may just keep honest people honest, but switching to something that can be so much more easily faked just lowers the bar of "honesty."

  • Re:Is it wise? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:42AM (#31399928) Homepage

    Is it wise to own something which denies access to your house/car/bank if it's dropped or runs out of battery?

    This plan seems more worthy of Baldrick than a supposedly smart company.

  • Re:Two words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:42AM (#31399934)

    Flat battery

    Well .. you just carry a spare battery to swap out when you need it ... oh .. never mind.

  • Re:Security? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:47AM (#31399986)

    I'm carrying a wireless car key in my pocket, but I change the batteries on it maybe once a year, and the batteries cost $10. Not only can you not carry a spare battery for an iPhone, but you have to recharge it daily. Completely impractical for a key.

    At the risk of stating the very very very obvious, there's no reason why there can't be a separate battery for the key function. They could use one of those tiny ones you get in wireless car keys...

  • Re:typical Apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LucidBeast (601749) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:48AM (#31399990)
    Just because a product isn't on the market doesn't mean that it hasn't been invented. Apple did a good job on the phone and its marketing, but to say that they invented all that is a long stretch.
  • by Nadaka (224565) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:49AM (#31400004)

    It could be more secure, or less.

    In practice the only way to gain access to the locations secured by physical keys is to steal them, doing it without the persons knowledge means stealing them, copying them and returning them without the persons knowledge.

    It may be possible to crack the encryption (if there is any, many such secure systems claim to have encryption but do not) on this RFID technology at range with an antenna that can not be seen.

  • by dejanc (1528235) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:50AM (#31400012)

    Of coarse I already keep all my keys on a single keychain, just like most people. This probably wouldn't be any less secure.

    You probably don't have your address, name or a phone number attached on the same keychain.

  • Always bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlappyBastard (961143) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:51AM (#31400020) Homepage

    Considering the relative ease with which RFID has been hacked, and how long it took for Bluetooth to become only reasonably secure, and how far off good wireless security is . . .

    And that's the discussion you go through before you get to "stupid people."

    And let's not even have the "If software can't keep gas pedals from sticking, what will it do for door locks."

    I'm an opponent of the excessive and unnecessary desire to expand technology into areas where an existing technology already does a better job.

  • by Mashdar (876825) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:54AM (#31400030)

    It could be more secure, or less.

    In practice the only way to gain access to the locations secured by physical keys is to steal them, doing it without the persons knowledge means stealing them, copying them and returning them without the persons knowledge.

    It may be possible to crack the encryption (if there is any, many such secure systems claim to have encryption but do not) on this RFID technology at range with an antenna that can not be seen.

    You are assuming you need the keys in the first place... [slashdot.org]

    A time-variant RFID key would be significantly more secure. I just hope you don't drop your phone in your toilet.

  • by Anonimouse (934959) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:55AM (#31400036)
    1. You can tuck a key under the doormat if you lose the ones in your pocket. Not so electronic gadget. 2. As somebody else mentioned - flat battery? lose access to all your property. Flat battery in the lock or power cut in the house? lose access. 3. Replacing locks just got a whole lot more expensive and no doubt all lock makers would have to have some kind of license agreement with Apple. In short, LAME. This seems to be technology for technology's sake. I can see pretty much nothing but downsides to this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:59AM (#31400070)

    What should be news is that other companies have tried to push NFC for almost a decade, but consumers never seemed to care enough to get critical mass. Now Apple swoops in, tells the media "it's a phone... and an iKey!" and soon enough we'll have hundreds of solutions compatible only with the iPhone and Apple will get credit for the whole technology.

    Other phone companies need to grow a spine and learn some marketing, now.

  • so basically (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JustNiz (692889) on Monday March 08, 2010 @09:12AM (#31400188)

    this is an RFID chip then. With the added inconvenience of having to also enter a PIN number anyway.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday March 08, 2010 @09:13AM (#31400192)
    Of course if all they have is your key ring, they have to figure out where the things the keys go to are. If they steal your Iphone, much of that information is in there.
  • Re:Security? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday March 08, 2010 @09:22AM (#31400276)
    You've watched too much CSI, bud.

    High res images at a couple of hundred metres (high enough to read the peaks on your house key) between the time it takes you to take your keys from your pocket and put the key in the lock is well into the realm of serious photographic equipment and prowess (insuring your camera and lens for more than your car).

    As for lock picking, have you ever seen someone do it? A seriously good lockpick will spend a good 15 minutes on his knees fiddling around with the tumblers (on a pin tumbler lock, forget lever locks) and is only really feasible if you have expensive locks. Otherwise the barrel will be drilled out as it is more efficient.

    An opportunist thief will always go for the weakest point of failure; Smash the door, break a window etc. They don't care about keeping it neat, just about getting in and out as fast as possible.
  • by northernfrights (1653323) on Monday March 08, 2010 @09:33AM (#31400388)
    So instead of punching my PIN number directly into the lock on my car or house, which have had PIN based locks available for decades, I instead pull out my phone, load my iKey app, and punch my PIN in there? Is this really easier or more secure?
  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday March 08, 2010 @09:37AM (#31400424) Homepage Journal

    My problem with it is entering a PIN to unlock a door; it's easire to just stick a key in and turn it. My car already has a remote unlocker, and all I have to do is push a button. It's a step forward from the mechanical key, having to enter a PIN is a step backwards.

  • And one day (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JAlexoi (1085785) on Monday March 08, 2010 @09:53AM (#31400558) Homepage
    They will ban you from their approved users list, leaving you with an email message on your iPhone standing right before a closed door :-D
  • by Renderer of Evil (604742) on Monday March 08, 2010 @12:43PM (#31402610) Homepage

    Apple is becoming more evil lately...

    Someone should come up with an equivalent of Godwin's Law when it comes to branding some companies "Evil"

    What does it mean? It's a non-argument that stifles debate. Why is X suing Y? Because they are EVIL! It's an infantile attack that does very little to explore the nuances of the complicated patent law landscape and goes for the intellectually lazy answer.

    I guess all these companies on the chart [gizmodo.com] are Evil and we should all invest in Lemote Yeelong and gaze at our navels out of principle.

    If Apple wanted to shut down the competition they'd sue Android producing OEM's from day 1. Truth of the matter is, HTC is going out of its way along with help from Google to ape every feature of iPhone instead of actually coming up with novel ways of doing things. It's like ripping off the act of a successful comedian and calling it competition. Come up with your own damn material.

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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