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The Key to Injecting New Life into the Automotive Industry

It’s no secret that we’re really amped about the investment opportunities in Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology.

And last month, I wrote about how NFC chips are being used to make mobile payments and redeem deals through Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) Wallet application. So as you know, NFC technology basically allows payment devices in close proximity to share information.

But there’s a new use for this tiny tech wonder.

As Google’s partner and NFC chipmaker NXP Semiconductors (Nasdaq: NXPI) is proving, NFC chips have much greater potential than just transferring funds.

Thanks to the company’s newest innovation, you’ll soon be able check up on your car using just your mobile device. Here’s how it works…

The Power of NFC on Your Keyring

On June 27, NXP unveiled a new NFC chip called KEyLink Lite that can be installed in car keys. And the technology goes way beyond telling your car to unlock or start.

Basically, KEyLink obtains information from your car, which can then be transferred to either your NFC-enabled mobile device or a PC.  Think of it like a bridge that connects your smartphone or computer to your SUV.

So what data can the chip extract from your car exactly? Here are five new applications that the company revealed:

~Car Status and Service Data Management: Don’t remember when you last got the tires rotated or how much gas is left in your tank? Just upload the car’s status and service history information right to your computer or smartphone from the KEyLink chip.

~Route Planner:  This one’s great for people with in-car navigation systems. You simply load your destination into your key from either your smartphone or PC. Then your car’s GPS automatically maps out the route.

~Car Finder: KEyLink simply records the GPS coordinates of your parking spot. Then you just transfer the information to your smartphone and follow the Google Maps location back to your car. True, there are applications that do this already. But in my experience, booting up an application isn’t the first thing on my mind when I park my car.   

~Car Personalization: This has a lot of potential as automobiles become more connected and software-enabled. Car manufacturers can load a vehicle with advanced features and services that are available for a premium. Then later on, you can obtain permission from the manufacturer and load the upgrades onto the car key. Great for when you really want your car to play the Knight Rider theme song when you start the engine.

~Car Self-Diagnosis: Ford (NYSE: F) SYNC customers should be familiar with this feature, and it’s the best benefit in my opinion. Not sure what that grinding noise is? Just upload diagnostic data from your key to your smartphone and find out what’s wrong with your car.

NXP is Solidifying its NFC Dominance

These are not bad features to have. Granted, it would be more convenient to skip the key altogether and link the car directly to your smartphone.

Problem is, not all smartphones come with NFC built in. And since you can hook the key up to your computer, KEyLink acts as a nice stopgap as NFC gains more traction.

Besides, this technology isn’t just useful for consumers. Think of the possibilities for companies that need constant vehicle status updates – i.e. rental car providers.

Either way, it demonstrates that we can expect much more from NFC beyond mobile payments, and more importantly, how NXP is expanding its reach in the space.

Good investing,

Justin Fritz

Justin Fritz

, Executive Editor

View More By Justin Fritz