Locked away in a lab, oblivious to the real world, an elite but small group of IT technicians have been busy attempting to distill everything we need in life, into one compact, take it anywhere, canâ€™t live without it, device.
According to BMW they have succeeded, and youâ€™d expect nothing less from a team led by a chap called Hans-JÃ¶rg VÃ¶gel. Hans and his team have developed a prototype â€˜multifunctionalâ€™ car key, that not only allows access to your BMW, but features an integrated credit card â€“ just in time for a global credit crisis.
â€œAs part of our research project we first integrated a security chip into the key casing, which communicates across short distances by radio with a card reader,â€ Hans-JÃ¶rg VÃ¶gel, project manager at BMW Group Forschung und Technik said.
But it doesnâ€™t stop there. Future functionality of â€˜the keyâ€™ could include electronic ticket access to other forms of transport, such as the public bus and train network, or even airlines.
So just what are the benefits that BMW sees in this technology? BMW believes that adding a personalised credit card function to the car key, â€œopens the door to a wealth of other mobility scenariosâ€.
Examples are secure in-car access to personal data since the key gives the driver authorised online access to their personalised ConnectedDrive services inside a BMW - and not only in their own BMW, but also from a BMW hire car, for example. Here, the driver identifies himself using his personal key and the car adopts his individual settings. Access to personal data such as address books, favourite radio stations and personal subscriptions to services and content providers is activated through the multifunctional key.
Because the driver can be identified with total certainty, the key can now â€“ for the first time â€“ be linked to the car owner rather than any particular car. This also makes hiring cars and car sharing, for instance, even easier.
â€œWith the concept of integrating a cashless payment function into a car key, we are working on ways of linking up vehicle technology and lifestyle,â€ Prof. Raymond Freymann, Director of BMW Group Research and Technology said.