BMW researchers have revealed a prototype car key that can, one day in the future, also be used to buy life's essentials, as well as pay for your public transport tickets.
Would sir like some petrol with that?
According to Hans-Jörg Vögel, a project manager at BMW Group Research and Technology, the company has inserted an RFID security chip into a prototype car key. With this chip on board, the key can be loaded with personal information, such as your credit card details, meaning that you could feasibly make purchases with your car key, should your retailer of choice have a proximity reader. If you live in a city whose public transport system uses stored value cards read by proximity sensors, like the Octopus card in Hong Kong and Oyster in London, cash can also be loaded on to your key, and your key swiped at turnstiles to pay for your train, bus or tram fare.
This smart key can also store a raft of in-car settings, such as seat position, steering wheel height, favourite stations and so forth. In some of today's luxury cars these settings are associated to particular keys, but because BMW's prototype key stores personal preferences on the key itself, your settings aren't restricted to your own car. They could, possibly, be used in other BMWs that you may borrow, such as from your wife, friends or a hire car company.
According to BMW Australia this technology is quite a while away from turning up in your favourite Bimmer. So our squeals of ironic delight as we pay for our bus fare with a car key will have to be put on ice for a little while.