The key to the future
By presenting the concept of a „Key of the future“, BMW dealt with the topic of NFC combined with a concept for practical implementation for the first time in automobile manufacturing. The objective was to provide the driver with a medium they can use for diverse applications along their travel into which the medium is seamlessly integrated. The key owner could for instance pay small amounts at the newspaper kiosk or use the key for access control. When stuck in a traffic jam the driver could be directed to the next train station through navigation while a train ticket could be booked and stored to the key even during the ride. This concept serves to illustrate many options of NFC usage. BMW has set itself the objective of enabling added value for its customers as premium mobility service provider in addition to developing and selling automobiles. The services provided are supposed to make different service offers available seamlessly. For this purpose NFC technology can become a key factor.
Car sharing has become a trend
The need for mobility has changed fundamentally over the past few years. Many drivers want rather to use than to possess vehicles already today. At the weekend for instance a car is needed to drive to the furniture shop, on the trip a cabriolet is the favorite choice and during the week a compact city car is most suitable to optimally use the increasingly scarce road area and to take the best advantage of the parking situation. Carsharing solutions can be an answer to these needs. If for example an NFC reader is installed into the vehicle, the user could identify himself conveniently taking advantage of his NFC capable smartphone in the future to unlock and start the vehicle. For this purpose however some security requirement still have to be taken into account. An additional sticker on the driver's license won't be required then for instance. As a result such an application becomes very dynamic and makes carsharing more practicable as the driver can use their registration as well as the key on one device using a Trusted Service Management for example, independent of existing hardware.
Smartphones are not yet an ideal solution
By researching NFC technology in the automobile environment, the involved specialists formed the basis to bring an NFC platform to series maturity at BMW. The challenge for employees is now to find practical use cases. If however many functions are to be merged on one device, a high security standard has to be guaranteed. Smartphones provide the ideal technical conditions for innovative applications, still the architechture consisting of processor, applications and NFC interface present weak spots for attacks or to embed malware. Furthermore using the mobile phose as a car key bears the risk of certain disabled functions due to an empty battery. However BMW considers the further development of safe and customer focused solutions with smartphones an important step.
The article was published in the September issue 2013 of the magazine „RFID im Blick“.
Translated by "RFID im Blick"