back to article NFC will help you find your car - if you're next to it

The search for a problem that only Near Field Communications can solve now sees an NFC-equipped key fob which can interact with a mobile phone to report a car's mileage, fuel level, tyre pressure and location... or what it was last time the fob looked. The technology comes from car-component specialist Delphi, which reckons a …


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  1. Ivan Slavkov

    And what is the point?

    Most new vehicle on the high end ship with Bluetooth integration which can handle this and a hell lot more - reminding the driver to do a service, reporting, fuel efficiency, supplying real time fuel consumption data to GPS apps, you name it.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Remote key fob?

    I've always found my car by pressing the button on my car alarm key fob. Works from some distance too.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I used to have a car which had a little plastic thing you had to press to some terminals to disable the immobiliser.

    Surely something like that (even a USB stick) could work perfectly well in this sort of senario and not have a) the chance to steal any information being transferred wirelessly, b) no licensing fees and c) much easier integration - just needs a connector on any device which wants to use it.

    1. Steve Evans


      I had one of those! Probably the most trouble free immobiliser I have ever had. No batteries to go flat in the fob.

    2. BorkedAgain

      It'll never work...

      ...gotta be wireless, see? Connectors are, like, SO last century...

      1. I didn't do IT.

        Re: USB immobiliser

        Neat! I can see having a couple hundred MB encryption key file stored on the stick, and just plug it in to operate the car; kind of a digital ignition key. Finally have a use for those 256MB and 512MB USB keys shuffling about in my junk drawer.

        Well, now I know what I'll be designing, building and installing this weekend. :)

  4. Natalie Gritpants

    Immobilisers might be a better application

    Just have the immobiliser tag on you keyring and it will be near enough when you insert the ignition key to work. Better than fumbling in the dark for the place to insert the magic doobrey.

    Speaking of which, if I'm in a restaurant I'll be concentrating on loosening the knickers of the other person and not wanting to edit my playlist or roast my dog.

  5. /\/\j17

    New Friends Required

    "You can make changes to the car's interior temperature settings, or configure a new playlist from inside a restaurant, for example."

    Mr Tieman*, if your friends are really THAT dull that you are thinking about the playlist in your car while dining with them - YOU NEED NEW FRIENDS**

    * Oh come on, that's SO made up.

    ** Or perhaps THEY need the new friend...

  6. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Perhaps I'm missing something

    "You can make changes to the car's interior temperature settings, or configure a new playlist from inside a restaurant, for example." This is true, though the changes won't actually affect the car until you get back into it."

    Um...if you're in a restaurant, and thus presumably out of earshot of the stereo, why is it a problem that a new playlist would not take effect until you get back into the car?

    I think the bigger issue is the need to obsess over your car's feature settings while in a restaurant. OCD can be treated. (OCD diagnosis does not apply owners of any BMW with iDrive, since years of study are required to fully configure the car.)

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Yeah, that's novel.

      Oops! This 'ere Opel Zafira key has two parts to it. There's a blade part (the key bit) and the electronic fob bit.

      Squirrelled away in the top of the blade bit is a small plastic coated chip that clips into it, held in place securely once the whole shebang is assembled to the fob. That's the bit that the immobiliser validates when you shove the key into the ignition.

      This one's not only Been Done it's Been Done For Over A Decade and, more to the point, it's Been Done Without NFC. It doesn't have the "oo looky, an immobiliser tag" value, but it's a bloody sight more convenient.

  7. JShel

    Not to be a bother,but...

    assuming it worked at a distance (which it doesn't) if i wanted to adjust the climate, I would need to have the engine running, hence the key in the ignition, but somehow, I will have brought the fob with me, while leaving the car running elsewhere?


  8. Fluffykins Silver badge

    That reminds me

    Reminds me of a conversation manyyears ago, between an old chum of mine and a trendy lecturer. Chum had an old banger at the time and was just looking out of the window into the carpark.

    "Oh" says lecturer. "Have you a problem?"

    "No" says my chum. Just checking I've not left my lights on."

    Lecturer's tone becomes slightly smug: "Oh, doesn't your car tell you when you've left your lights on?"

    Chum: "Yes, it doesn't start when I get back to it."

  9. Ian 31
    Thumb Down

    Just because you can do something....

    Doesn't make it a good idea.

  10. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Remind Me.....

    What the fuck is the point in NFC? You talk about this not being the killer application (not that I'm disagreeing) but I can't say I've yet seen a useful application of it that could not have been handled by something else.

    Oyster cards come close, but could probably have been done without NFC. Barclaycard Wave (or Whatever it's called) is just a complete and utter jizzspurt of an idea.

    NFC price labels? Added cost (passed onto the consumer) for very little benefit.

    OK so I'm no expert on NFC, but it does seem that the only semi-useful application is security tags to stop you walking out of a shop with something!!!

    Just think of the money wasted on R&D in this pathetically useless area!!

    1. TeeCee Gold badge


      "....but it does seem that the only semi-useful application is security tags to stop you walking out of a shop with something!!!"

      Go down to a local store and measure the distance between the tag detecting gates at the exit, then think about why they *have* to be that far apart. Now think about the 10cm range of NFC, calculate the width of the "carry bag here for free stuff" zone in the middle and bathe in the warmth of the FAIL.

      Yup, it can't even do that for you. More to the point, if you go to the trouble of fitting NFC smart tag arsehattery to all your stock, you *still* need to add a second antitheft tag. This is so dead it's unbelievable.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Applications of NFC?

      Suica sounds like a good idea - especially the diversion into papers/magazines/vending machines in lieu of currency. Sort of like an Oyster card invented by people with a clue. [re. ] My work clock-in/out card works like that. Just pick up the bit of plastic with my name on it, wave it at the machine stuck on the wall until it notices, then put the plastic back.

      Other than that, for most of the things I've seen, it seems NFC is largely a solution looking for a problem. That said, in the case of my work, I can tell you we have nearly a eighty people in the course of a day, which will want to clock in, out to break, in from break, out at the end. In the case of Suica, can you imagine how many people pass through a train station guard barrier in the course of a day? It makes sense to remove the mechanical component, the need to make electrical contact with something. The latter, I mention, because my supermarket is always telling me my card is "muette" (whatever that translates to be in English). No, my card is usually fine, I insert my card upside down and push it in/out vigorously, then try again with the card in correctly and it works. I have no idea how many people use cards at that terminal in that shop in the course of a day. If we say 200, then it's a thousand in a week. Fifty-odd thousand in a year. But I might be underestimating by an order of magnitude. What's the rated insert/remove lifespan of a smart card reader? Wouldn't it be simpler and more reliable if you just had to wave something near something else? This is one potential application of NFC.

      But, between you and me, right now I'd prefer KFC to NFC. :-) Damn, I'm hungry...

  11. Stratman


    "....................... or configure a new playlist from inside a restaurant, for example."

    The killer app. Where do I sign?

    We've all been there, waiting for the fish course to arrive but ashamed of the playlist in the car. Now we have yet another way to piss off other diners.

    Megaphone, because the dorks won't need one to be heard across the restaurant .

  12. El
    Paris Hilton

    Solution in search of a problem

    I honestly cannot think of any application for NFC that wouldn't be better served by Bluetooth.

  13. Lionel Baden

    ok ive had it !!

    ca somebody tell me whats FOB stands for.

    i know what it is not what it means and its driving me crazy

    1. TeeCee Gold badge


      In Incoterms, Free On Board.

      In context here, it's the thing* on your keyring that ain't a key. It may be an NFC tag**, it may be a thingy with buttons wot opens your car, it may have a torch built in, it may just be a piece of pink plastic with "Hello Kitty" written on it.

      Most often it's the leather thing with the Porsche badge on it to identify the keys you use to operate your clapped out Ford Escort.......

      *It is permissible to have more than one.

      **Yeah, I know, but I'm *trying* to stay on-topic here.

      1. Lionel Baden
        Thumb Up

        nope very helpfull

        Many thanks

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