DENSO, one of the world’s largest automotive technology, systems and components suppliers, has acquired Holland, Mich.-based InfiniteKey, Inc., along with several key patents and R&D resources. The acquisition provides foundational pieces to developing phone-as-a-key technology and increases DENSO’s lead in developing and deploying smartphone-based automotive access, a critical component of the company’s strategy to create a future with frictionless mobility. This type of technology will become increasingly important for automakers, as ridesharing and driverless services progress beyond the need for keys.
“When we consider the future of mobility, the customer experience is always at the forefront of our design. Eliminating the need for physical keys will create a headache-free experience for car owners, and ridesharing and driverless services users,” said Bill Foy, senior vice president of Engineering, DENSO International America. “This acquisition brings us one step closer to making this experience a reality and advancing vehicle access technologies.”
InfiniteKey has developed advanced techniques for microlocating smartphones relative to vehicles using standard Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). This technology allows automakers to rely on phones as passive keys, in the same way they rely upon dedicated passive key fobs today. Unlike key fobs, however, phones as passive key systems enable a broad range of mobility services, such as ridesharing and driverless services.
“This acquisition demonstrates DENSO’s aggressive approach to supporting startups and technologies we view as significantly valuable for the future of the transportation industry,” said Tony Cannestra, director of Corporate Ventures, DENSO International America. “Whether it’s through direct investment or acquisition, DENSO will find a way to support and partner with companies to help transform mobility.”
Kevin Virta, CEO of InfiniteKey, expressed his team’s enthusiasm for joining forces with DENSO. “Becoming part of DENSO, with its global reach and world-class engineering, means our phone-as-a-key technology can reach the broadest possible penetration in the automotive market,” said Virta. “We are looking forward to making significant contributions to DENSO’s efforts to lead the way in automotive technologies of the future.
InfiniteKey has been acquired by DENSO International America, DENSO’s North American regional headquarters, and is now a satellite office. DENSO completed its transaction of InfiniteKey in October 2017. Terms were not disclosed.