The Car Key of the Future

Car keys as you know them are about to take a huge step forward. There is speculation in the industry that car keys will soon go head to head with cell phones in the battle for which one will become your new wallet. German auto maker BMW believes that people will be paying for things when out and about not with your wallet or cell, but with your car keys. BMW released a paper on Monday outlining “the car key of the future”. The car company believes that your regular car key will become a tool that will be used to make purchases. “Some car keys are already able to store vehicle-related data, such as mileage, fuel level, battery charge level or service data, though this information can only be read by the appropriate appliance at a specialist garage. “The BMW Group believes that the car key of the future will allow personal access to a new mobility experience and offer a significantly wider range of features. It will permit the simple and convenient use of future services along the travel chain and in everyday use,” says BMW. The auto maker's comments come as cell phone companies have begun including NFC (Near Field Communication) support in their devices and operating systems. With Android version 2.3 leading the way. Companies like Nokia, and Sony Ericsson are adding NFC functionality to their next generation of handsets already, and many more like HTC and Apple are also rumoured to be doing so. With big competition on the way, BMW feels that it can get in on the action too with a connected car key and its next generation of cars. “BMW Group specialists have added an NFC interface and a security controller to a current BMW car key as a basis for interaction with wireless, contact free payment, ticketing and access systems. “These days the key is already able to store tickets for public transport (KeyTicketing) as well as vehicle information (KeyInfo); it can be used to make payments (KeyPayment) and opens not just cars but hotel rooms as well (KeyAccess),” says BMW Group in a research paper. Imagine driving your car somewhere, being alerted that traffic is at a deadlock, and using your key to wirelessly pay for a ticket and hop on a train. “If the navigation system warns of congestion in the town centre or the driver wishes to make a particular journey by rail, he can use KeyTicketing to purchase the relevant ticket for use on local public transport or a train service from the comfort of his car and have it stored on his key. Using the iDrive Controller, he can select the destination and confirm the purchase of the requested ticket. As an alternative to this form of booking via the display and iDrive, the driver will in future also have the option of requesting the BMW ConnectedDrive call centre to search for the most suitable connection. Following confirmation by the customer, the relevant ticket is then booked, e.g. from the servers of Deutsche Bahn, paid for and sent to the car via the existing BMW Online connection. The car automatically transfers the ticket to the customer’s key via the available UHF (ultra high frequency). The customer can now proceed straight from the car to the train without having to buy a ticket from a machine or print out an e-ticket.” The most obvious benefit of the new keys will be when paying for gas. Instead of getting out your credit card and paying at the pump, it is feasible that you will be able to eventually pull up to the pump and just pump your gas and drive away. With billing and payment done wirelessly and contact free between the pump and your key. A link to the credit card company would be necessary and all of these little formalities will need to be worked out. The obvious negative side of this is what will happen when hackers and thieves begin defrauding these keys and their systems. The possibilities are endless and the repercussions would be drastic. People can now steal your cars and start them with computers, but if this system is implemented, they could likely steal your credit card information and make numerous charges on your accounts before you even get home. Time will tell what will happen, but tell us your thoughts. U Be the Critic. Comment below!