For years we have wondered exactly how near-field communication (NFC) would be applied in-car beyond vehicle ignition and, recently, Apple Pay. Now that the vision of car-sharing is being articulated as a viable path toward urban mobility, the use of NFC is becoming more clearly defined, and the possibilities are impressive.
While not new to the tech scene (NFC has been on the Android platform for years and the NFC Forum has been around since 2004), NFC appears to be gaining relevance as a secure, short-range communication protocol for use in vehicle interiors designed for multiple drivers, as is the case with car-sharing. Storing personal preferences in a smartphone allows each driver to quickly establish climate, seating, entertainment, information and communication settings in a way that individualizes the driving experience.
This could lead to automakers designing interior options that allow for stronger branding while at the same time accommodate multiple drivers and operate on a standardized connected platform. Daimler’s Car2Go car-sharing service and BMW’s similar DriveNow program already equip their cars with NFC so that users can open the cars by tapping a membership card on the door.
One nagging thing holding back the mass adaptation of NFC has been that the previous generation technology needed multiple chips to operate multiple functions, which added up to some serious expense that development managers could not justify. NXP Semiconductors recently announced a controller chip that can support multiple functions rather than just one, saving the multi-chip expense and ushering in a new opportunity for NFC to proliferate.
Rental fleets would also benefit. Without the need to learn all of the driver-assist, infotainment and connectivity features in an unfamiliar vehicle, renters would simply tap their NFC-enabled smartphone to the dashboard and then have a much more familiar driving experience through automatic enabling of pre-programmed preferences. And once the smartphone is removed from the vehicle, all sensitive data could automatically be wiped and the vehicle would be ready for the next renter.
With an estimated 1.2 billion smartphones being equipped with NFC by 2018, we see a huge potential for the technology and how it will augment the future of vehicle interiors. And we know that it sometimes takes over 10 years for a technology to become an overnight sensation.
Source: Pairing phones to cars could be done with a tap – Automotive News