NXP has launched a single-chip solution for use in multifunction NFC-enabled car keys. The NCF2970 KeyLink Lite enables car keys to be connected to external NFC-compatible devices such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops and is based on both international NFC standards and NXP’s Remote Keyless Entry (RKE) and Passive Keyless Entry (PKE) technologies.
“Drivers will be able to simply wave their car key over an NFC-compliant mobile device to access essential and useful car data,” says NXP, which envisages five key application areas for the NFC keys:
- Car finder. The car key records the GPS coordinates of a car’s last parking position. This can then later be read by an NFC-compliant mobile phone, which then uses a service such as Google Maps to download a vicinity map and help locate the car.
- Route planner. Drivers can use their home or office PC to plan their route and then transfer the data to the car key via NFC. They can then upload destination data from the car key to the in-car navigation system.
- Car status and service data management. Information such as how much fuel is in the car can be transferred to the NFC car key and from there to an NFC phone. A car’s service history can also be stored on the Keylink Lite.
- Problem diagnosis. Diagnostics data can also be transferred from the car to an NFC-enabled PC via the car key. This data can then be uploaded to a service website so that a diagnostic analysis can be conducted online without having to take the car to a specialist.
- Car personalization. Car manufacturers can pre-fit cars with premium services and features that drivers can choose to unlock at a later date by, for example, registering for or subscribing to the service or feature online. The fact that the driver had bought the feature would then be written to the NFC car key and transferred to the car so that it could be unlocked or activated.
“The car key experience will never be the same again,” says Drue Freeman from NXP’s automotive business unit. “Drivers will have a whole new connected car experience with a variety of services for comfort, convenience and maintenance, available at the swipe of the ‘smart’ key. By bringing together our industry-leading technology for car access and immobilization with our expertise in NFC, NXP’s KeyLink Lite will open a lot more doors to the world of connected mobility.”
Automotive manufacturers have been showing an increasingly strong interest in the potential of NFC over the last few months:
- IDaimler, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and Volkswagen joined Nokia, Samsung and others as founder members of the Car Connectivity Consortium in March, with the aim of developing common standards for connectivity between handsets and vehicles.
- Last October, automotive components supplier Valeo partnered with Orange to demonstrate a near field communication-based solution for sharing vehicles between several drivers.
- In February, Morpho and Simlink unveiled an NFC-enabled key fob.
- NXP showcased an NFC-enabled concept car, developed by automotive supplier Continental, at the Mobile World Congress in March.
- In January, BMW published a white paper outlining its vision for an NFC-enabled ‘car key of the future’.