BMW to create next generation key

BMW is working to create a next generation car key, that will not only unlock car doors, but could be used to make payments and book train tickets.

The technology, called near-field communications (NFC), will provide BMW owners with access to more than they expect from a normal key, from radio tuning to booking and opening hotel rooms.

Particular keys available exclusively at specialist garages currently contain information pertaining to the car, such as fuel levels, distance travelled, battery charge levels and service related data. However, the new BMW version will push the technology forward.

A prototype of the NFC interface has been created, and it can already perform functions such as KeyTicketing, where train tickets can be booked by a motorist, KeyInfo, for data related to the vehicle, KeyPayment, where one can pay 'contactlessly', and KeyAccess, which opens hotel room doors.

The keys will be "far more secure" than communication devices such as mobile phones, which risk having many transfer channels such as GSM, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi through which malware can get in.

Thomas Kratz of BMW development access and authentication systems division, said: "Our vision is that, in future, the key will not only mean access to the car but, inside and outside the car, will become as it were the 'key' to many functions. I would then be able to set out while checking for just one thing: have I got my BMW key on me?"

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