CryptoCell-powered firmware adds greater security to Bluetooth LE smart locks and readers


The BlueID firmware version 1.1 can be easily integrated into existing OEM lock designs based on Nordic’s nRF52840 SoC

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Munich, Germany-based IoT access control developer, BlueID, has released ‘BlueID Ready2Go Integration for Nordic nRF52840 Version 1.1’ of its ‘ACCESS®’ firmware for Nordic’s nRF52840 Bluetooth® 5/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) advanced multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC). The version 1.1 firmware forms part of a complete Cloud-based access rights management platform that turns smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches into secure digital keys, and now includes support for the Nordic SoC’s Arm® CryptoCell functionality.

Hardware manufacturers can purchase a ‘Ready2Go’ license for the ACCESS firmware enabling them to easily integrate it into their nRF52840 SoC-based electronic lock and reader designs using Nordic’s nRF5 Software Development Kit (SDK). The Nordic SoC’s secure over-the-air device firmware upgrade (OTA-DFU) capability also allows existing nRF52840 SoC-based locks and readers using previous versions of the ACCESS firmware to be securely updated in the field.

The ACCESS firmware allows facility managers to provide Cloud-based authorization and authentication of a user’s access credentials, enabling effective and secure facility access control. Once authorized, the user can open a door fitted with an nRF52840 SoC-based lock or reader using their Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) smartphone and Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity provided by the Nordic SoC. 

To ensure the highest level of security the BlueID solution takes advantage of the nRF52840’s advanced security features including an Arm TrustZone CryptoCell-310 cryptographic module and an AES 128-bit hardware accelerator that provide cryptographic functions and include a true random number generator (TRNG).

The nRF52840 with BlueID firmware offers the perfect solution for fast and secure access control management in buildings.
Philipp Spangenberg, CEO, BlueID
The BlueID platform consists of three components; the Cloud-based BlueID Trust Center, the central database where the facility manager can generate BlueID ‘tokens’ or unique digital keys for individual users; a ‘BlueID Keys’ iOS and Android app running on the user’s smartphone or tablet, that receives the electronic access authorization data from the BlueID Trust Center; and the nRF52840 SoC-powered electronic lock or reader that receives the secure access credentials from the user’s smartphone or tablet via the Nordic SoC’s low latency Bluetooth LE wireless connectivity and grants access. Developed in particular for digital buildings such as modern hotels and co-working offices, BlueID ACCESS offers additional products to promote usability. The Lock Admin App, for example, enables users to fully manage BlueID-enabled locks and readers, while the ACCESS Web User Interface allows the attribution of keys to users.
Nordic’s nRF52840 multiprotocol SoC is Nordic’s most advanced ultra low power wireless solution. The SoC supports complex Bluetooth LE and other low-power wireless applications that were previously not possible with a single-chip solution. The SoC combines a 64MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex® M4F processor with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5, ANT™, Thread, Zigbee, IEEE 802.15.4, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol software) with 1MB Flash memory and 256kB RAM. A new radio architecture with on-chip PA provides features -95dBm RX sensitivity (at 1Mbps Bluetooth LE), a maximum output power of 8dBm, and a total link budget of 103dBm. The chip supports all the features of Bluetooth 5 (including 4x the range or 2x the raw data bandwidth (2Mbps)) compared with Bluetooth 4.2. 
The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S140 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certified software protocol stack for building long range and high data Bluetooth LE applications. The S140 SoftDevice offers concurrent Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster, and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, and supports high throughput and long range modes as well as advertising extensions. OpenThread and Zigbee stacks are available through Nordic’s nRF5 SDK for Thread and Zigbee.
“Nordic is a well-accepted chip brand, used by many of our customers,” says Philipp Spangenberg, CEO, BlueID. “This makes the integration of BlueID into their hardware more convenient, faster, and less costly. The nRF52840 SoC also provided us with very low power consumption and a very well supported SDK that speeds development both on our side, and for the end customer.
“The nRF52840 with BlueID firmware offers the perfect solution for fast and secure access control management in buildings.”
BlueID also offers an ACCESS firmware solution for nRF52832 SoC-based smart locks and readers.