Apple has patented a system that would enable consumers to use their phones to replace keys for the cars, homes and offices. It’s an effort that could finally move the needle for NFC, which has failed to gain any real traction at the retail counter.

Apple has secured a patent for a system that would enable consumers to use an electronic gadget — say, um, an iPhone — in place of keys to unlock their cars and front doors. It’s an effort that could finally move the needle for the short-range wireless connectivity technology known as near field communication.

As first reported by the Daily Telegraph, Apple would allow users to enter a PIN code and wave the phone over an electronic pad fitted to a door. The system would be based on NFC, which has long been envisioned (and trialed) as a technology that could power retail transactions but has so far failed to gain any real traction — due at least in part to the fact that consumers don’t see much additional value in using their phones instead of their credit cards to make payments. But replacing keychains with phones could be a very attractive proposition for consumers — and as such could encourage handset makers to finally add the technology to their devices.

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NFC + Retail = Fail

Image courtesy Flickr user BlakJakDavy.

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  1. Great, so now someone can steal an iPhone and get access to the owner’s car and house as well as email and bank accounts. Nice. Anyone ever hear of the concept of single point of failure?

    Yes, I know it is possible to set security PINs on the phones, but let’s be realistic here: How many people really want to be bothered to type in a code to use their pretty toy?

    1. I see your point, Anthony, but I think most users would actually make a little extra effort to set up and use a code on the phone if it were the keys to the home and car. At least, I hope so. :)

  2. Sounds all fine and dandy until the battery dies and you’re locked out of your car or house.

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