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BMW Key-card Unlocks Car, Does Contactless Payment & More

Tue Oct 21, 2008 - 4:10 PM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell


Remember when your car key was just a "key" to unlock your doors and trunk, and to start your engine? Then came the keyless entry with which you could press a button on your key fob and your car doors would unlock before you even get to your car. This key fob frequently comes with an alarm built in that will cause your vehicle's alarm system to blare out if you press the red "emergency" button. I have such a key fob for my little VW Beetle and I really appreciate the convenience of being able to lock and unlock my doors without touching the car's actual doors. My key can also roll my windows up or down if I insert the key into the door and turn and hold it to the right or left.

There are also some key fobs now that have the function of even starting up your vehicle for you. My hairdresser/friend has one for her new Chevrolet car. In cold weather, she can be inside her house and start her car with her key fob. That way, her car will be all toasty and warm when she goes outside to get in. Pretty neat.

I read a really interesting article on a new type of multi-functional key over at SlashGear just now. Chris Davies is reporting that BMW and NXP Semiconductors have announced what they're calling the world's first multi-functional car key. The key, which is currently in prototype, is powered by NXP's SmartMX security chip. The key features contactless payment, personalized access control, and advanced functionalities including public transport e-ticketing, to deliver an enhanced mobility experience. Sweet! Sounds more like a James Bond experience. Imagine using your car key to pay for your gas, groceries, taxies and buses, and parking and road tolls. Sounds like this key could be your personalized credit card. According to the press release, future consumers will be able to securely gain access to personal data and be authorized for personalized in-vehicle online services in any BMW vehicle that they own or drive. The SlashGear article says that "This could range from seat position to radio presets, GPS data and anything else under the remit of BMW�s iDrive in-car computer system." I don't own a BMW so I wasn't aware of any of those personalized in-vehicle online services.

From the press release:

�With the concept of integrating contactless payment functionality in a car key, we are working on the combination of automotive technology and lifestyle,� said Prof. Raymond Freymann, managing director of BMW Group Research and Technology. �In cooperation with NXP we are doing research in enhancing the capabilities of the car key into one smart device for access, payment, and services that will simplify the lives of BMW car drivers in future. It will help us to stay in touch with our drivers directly and deliver a complete range of mobility-enhancing services.�

NXP will demonstrate the car key prototype at its booth during the CARTES & IDentification show in Paris from 4th to 6th November 2008.

You can read the full press release at

Wow, technology never ceases to amaze me. It just keeps rolling right along and picking up speed. We all know that our Palm smartphones can do all kinds of cool functions like send and receive emails, take pics and videos, be used as voice recorders, let you jot down directions and even draw maps, send and receive phone calls and voice mail, surf the Internet, play music and videos, etc. And fellow writer Jay Gross has written some neat articles on some unusual things we can accomplish with our Palm smartphones. Jay wrote about the Schlage LiNK lock, the first Z-Wave enabled lock, which is a deadbolt and lock that lets homeowners remotely control and monitor access to their home 24/7 with any web-enabled mobile phone or computer. You can read more about the Schlage LiNK here. The Schlage LiNK is supposed to come out later this month and I do believe I'm going to get one. Sounds really cool!

Jay has also written about how you can use your phone to "Dial up a San Fransisco Parking Place" and how you can use your phone as a boarding pass on Delta.

I can't wait to see what cool electronic stuff comes out next!

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