BMW has outlined plans for the car key of the future, powered by the new short-range wireless connectivity technology called Near Field Communication (NFC).
According to the German car manufacturer, the new electronic car key will offer a significantly wide range of features, allowing users to make payments, book and open hotel rooms as well as tune radios.
Thomas Kratz, of BMW development access and authentication systems division, said: "Our vision is that, in future, the key will not only mean access to the car but, inside and outside the car, will become as it were the 'key' to many functions. I would then be able to set out while checking for just one thing: have I got my BMW key on me?"
Currently, some keys available exclusively at specialist garages contain details regarding the car such as fuel levels, distance travelled, battery charge levels and service related data.
Also in comparison with mobile phones, the modified car keys are "far more secure", BMW said.
The prototype is already capable of performing a host of functions such as KeyTicketing, where train tickets can be booked by a motorist, KeyInfo, for data related to the vehicle, KeyPayment, where one can pay 'contactlessly', and KeyAccess, which opens hotel room doors.
© Press Association 2011