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NXP helps bring NFC to cars

John Day

John Day

Posted Jul 7, 2011

If you are old enough to remember life as it was prior to the widespread availability of TV remotes, you might also remember wondering about their value. After all, how hard is it to walk across the room and turn the channel selector knob, there being at the time only a handful of channels? Now, think about giving up the remote (the phrase “…cold, dead fingers” comes to mind).

The analogy occurred to me as I thought about NXP’s recent announcement of a production-ready chip (NCF2970, or KEyLink Lite) that supports Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. Juniper Research predicts that at least one in five smartphones worldwide will have NFC functionality by 2014. That’s about 300 million devices.

If you have an NFC-ready smartphone and a car with an NFC smart key, NXP suggests you will be able to find your car more easily. The car key will store the car’s GPS coordinates and the smartphone can locate them on a map. You will also be able to enter route information on a PC and then transfer that information (an address, for example) to the car key, which will automatically upload it to the car’s navigation system.

Wave your car key over your smartphone and you will know whether or not it’s time to fill-up, and should you need your car’s service history, it’s right there in the car key, along with diagnostic data that you can transfer to a PC for subsequent uploading to a service website.

Another possibility is that automakers can fit every car with features that can be unlocked if or when the vehicle owner is ready for them. That does sound cost-effective.

NXP notes that its chip contains multiple security provisions befitting an NFC application.  The more I think about it, the more I can see advantages to NFC technology. Sure, I SHOULD know where I left my car, but against the odd chance I may have forgotten and my less parking lot-challenged friend is unavailable, a smart key could come in handy.

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, NFC smart key, Juniper Research, NXP NCF2970 KEyLink Lite, NFC-ready smartphone, NXP

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John DayJohn Day recently launched John Day’s Automotive Electronics News ( to provide news and feature coverage of the automotive electronics industry. Earlier he wrote for Auto Electronics magazine, Auto E-lectronics, EE Times, and other business and engineering publications. Visit John Day

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