Discover the Rising Stars №008 | Interview with the CMO of INGEEK Han Yi

Alibaba Cloud Innovation Center has introduced a new column, Discover the Rising Stars, to shed light on the backgrounds of entrepreneurs and company innovations. Through interviews, live streams, and other media approaches, we will deliver valuable news stories from multiple perspectives and dimensions, to offer you the real voices of entrepreneurs and to witness the power of technological innovations.

Cars are changing from traditional transportation tools to an electric, intelligent, networked, and shared future. From early mechanical keys to chip keys and then to intelligent remote keys, car keys become more and more intelligent with the advent of technology. In the eighth issue of Discover the Rising Stars, we interviewed Han Yi, CMO of INGEEK, the winner of The CACSC & BMW Group “Internet of Vehicles” 2021 Global Finals’ New Talent Award and Best Popularity Award. Together, we talked about the “transformation” and “upgrades” of car keys.

Internal combustion engines have more than a one-hundred-year history of development, but the matching car keys appeared later than the engine. In 1913, when the internal combustion engine was relatively small and low-powered, Lewis started the engine with a crank handle, the key for the engine then. The crankshaft and flywheel were rotated by shaking the handle.

The advent of technology surged through the industry and revolutionized car keys within decades. In the late 1940s, Chrysler’s mechanical key looked just like a regular door key. A turn of the key started the motor and drove the gears, making the crankshaft rotate, which started the car. At this time, the car keys are also used to open and lock the door.

After the emergence of mechanical keys, they soon evolved into chip keys, which contained a chip and a small circuit board. The chip could send and receive signals for remote control. Once upon a time, every individual door on the car needed to be locked one at a time, but now, with one press of the key, the internal control system could lock all four car doors at once.

At this time, car users cared about the practicality of the key and started to pay attention to its aesthetics. Obviously, the standard chip key didn’t have much to boast about in this department, which led to the appearance of folding chip keys. These keys were usually in one of two forms. One type ejected a mechanical key when pressed, and the other was the one-touch start type that is widely used now. The latter performed remote control of the car by one touch of a button in most daily scenarios; one only ejected the internal mechanical key in emergencies.

As technology develops rapidly, the truly intelligent and non-physical digital key finally appears in the automotive market.

“Let’s imagine a scenario where a user’s vehicle needs to be serviced or refueled or repaired, but they have no time to resolve the issue by themselves due to a busy schedule. How is this problem to be solved? Normally, we would have to physically give someone else the key for their assistance. With the digital key developed and designed by INGEEK, the traditional physical key is transformed into a digital one stored in mobile APPs, applets, and SMS, among other options. The customer only needs to forward the key by text to the chauffeur, who authenticates their identity on the APP, and they can operate the car to perform their designated tasks. The car owner can limit the number of times the key can be used and the driving speed. Digital car keys will most definitely save a lot of time for our users.” Han Yi explained.

Last year, INGEEK conducted a “Super Test Drive” service at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport. They parked some Toyota cars at the airport. Compared to regular cars, these Toyotas have the added smartphone or watch control feature. The cars can be picked up in the garage by scanning the QR code with Alipay and be tried out for two days without the assistance of the 4S store staff. Han Yi commented: “In the past, whether it was maintenance, refueling or charging, it was the car owner who was serving the car. With the digital key, all the actions can be done by sharing the key with the chauffeur so that the car owner does not need to handle it personally. It changes the original car owner serving the car to simply the car serving the car owner; the car and its owner have a close yet independent relationship.”

It is known that INGEEK has applied for more than 60 patented technologies based on the digital key. During the product design stage, INGEEK took security very seriously. They systematically evaluated risks and built security into the very foundation of the product’s functions. The result is a security system of “comprehensive systematic protection + core data guarding”, which guarantees product security and user experience. This is a textbook example of a dynamic protection system that covers both rapidity and security.

INGEEK digital key is capable of “four-cross integration” including car brands, phone brands, connection methods, and vehicle management. It covers more than 20 OEMs (including Hongqi, Toyota, FAW-Volkswagen, Geely, and Lexus) and mainstream phone brands, covering iOS, Android, and other mobile phone systems. The digital key also supports all types of near-field communication protocols, enabling the key to be connected over Bluetooth, NFC, UWB, etc. The user are also free to share and manage their vehicles based on specific time and function.

Aside from covering the OEMs, INGEEK also covers the consumer service of the automotive aftermarket, joining forces with Autohome, Dasouche, Alipay, Ping An China, and others.

At present, the digital key has been mass-produced and rolled off the production line on more than 30 car models, and INGEEK has established a partnership with more than 20 domestic OEMs. There is now an automobile ecosystem around INGEEK digital key, covering areas such as car manufacturers, T1, aftermarket services, insurance companies, and operators, with offers such as super test drive, valet, and insurance services available.

INGEEK, a technology company focused on Internet security, has upheld the values of “innovative technology, trust in me, ultimate experience and a coder’s spirit”. Founded in 2008, the company’s vision is to improve the relationship between humans and vehicles effectively. Starting his business in 1997, the president of INGEEK has been an entrepreneurial veteran. His five partners also have different backgrounds and strengths; their expertise includes customer resource accumulation, sales experience, industry experience, industry academics, technology, among others. “While we develop our start-up, we have to balance technology development and business expansion constantly. We not only need to get orders in, but we also need to secure the technology on the ground. We focus on resolving the conflict between technical business aspirations and single technology to integrate and resolve multi-dimensional challenges. Through our continuous research, INGEEK is the first digital key product in China to pass the security test of the Third Research Institute of the Ministry of Public Security. The test mainly focuses on four aspects of the product: identity authentication, vehicle-side communication security, secure storage, and APP security. After more than four months of rigorous testing, INGEEK digital key product passed the verification, meeting national standards.” Han Yi said.

At the same time, INGEEK has never slowed down its pursuit of product refinement. Through continual deliberations, breakthroughs, and practices, INGEEK has endeavored to promote the development and implementation of digital key related standards. The company has participated in 7 domestic and international digital key related standards organizations (CCC, IFAA, ICCE, TAF, CCSA, TC28/SC17, TC28/SC41), as part of its effort to promote standardization of digital key’s innovations, techniques, performance, testing, and management. INGEEK even opens its digital key product to a professional third party for certifications and testings. Aside from the Third Research Institute of the Ministry of Public Security’s testing, the company’s digital lock cylinder passed the ARM PSA certification in 2020. INGEEK is firmly for digital key’s product standardization and supports more car manufacturers and consumers to have access to digital keys to enjoy a more convenient, safer, and richer car experience.

Six months of competition and five regional finals later, INGEEK’s digital key project had made it to the 2021 CACSC & BMW Group “Internet of Vehicles” global finals. “The collaboration between Alibaba Cloud and BMW would give full play to the influence and appeal of both parties in the field of Internet technology and automobiles. The competition is bound to be an event with significant impact and create a wave in the automotive circle that cannot be underestimated. To have a deeper understanding of the market, we decided to join. We also hoped to have in-depth discussions with other innovative companies in the industry for self-improvement. In this competition, INGEEK’s digital key project was recognized by the competition organizers and expert judges and received attention from several media outlets; we had calls reaching out for more information about the product and exploring potential business opportunities. INGEEK hopes that with the support of Alibaba Cloud, we can provide more comprehensive and better services to users and give greater impetus to the automotive aftermarket. INGEEK will also continue to develop innovative technologies through the policy support of Shanghai Pudong New Area, promote the landing of digital key projects in Shanghai to build a smart city and smart transportation. We will continue to create a connected automobile ecosystem and drive collaborations in the industry.” Han Yi explained.

The development of the automotive industry is changing rapidly. In an age where everything is connected, where people and things connect safely and intelligently, INGEEK will continue to be committed to helping users build and guard a safer, smarter, and more convenient world of connected automobiles.

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