Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is not only for mobile payments. In the Netherlands, NFC is being used to make “smart” car keys. NXP Semiconductors, a company specializing in high performance mixed signal radio frequency products, is pioneering this use of the technology in Europe. The company announced last Wednesday that its new NFC-enable microchip is ready for use with multifunction car keys.
NFC keys can be used to interact with a vehicle without having to actually touch it. The keys can unlock doors and even start the engine through the use of NFC. Furthermore, the NFC-enable car keys can be synchronized to a mobile device. By waving the keys in front of such a device will bring up essential vehicle information, such as make, model and insurance information. The data stored in the key can be changed at any time through a mobile device.
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These smart keys are new ground for NFC technology, diverging from its increasingly common association with mobile payments. There are concerns regarding using the technology in this way, of course. Technically, the owner of the vehicle no longer needs an actual key, assuming that the engine will also be engaged via NFC. It is possible to replicate the signal that the NFC chip uses, thus creating a second “key” that can be used to access the vehicle.
These security concerns are considered low priority, however, and have not proven to be significant enough to deter the further incorporation of NFC technology.