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Jeroen Keunen, a general manager at NXP, demonstrated a smart-car key designed for the BMW 7 series during a tour of the Dutch semiconductor company's research facility in Eindhoven, Holland, last week.
As well as unlocking the car, the key receives and displays information. It can show details such as the amount of fuel left in the petrol tank and the GPS data of the last known position of the car.
Despite the current economic gloom, NXP is still spending heavily on research and development. According to NXP Innovation Labs scientific director Gerard Beenker, 16 percent of the company's expenditure is used on R&D.
"That's a huge amount," Beenker told ZDNet UK. The company's research and development focuses on radio frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communications (NFC).
The car key can be tapped against a Nokia 6131 phone to transfer information between the devices. In addition, it can be fitted with a chip to enable payments at garages or to give access to buildings.
The NFC chip is powered by the point-of-sale device, rather than relying on a battery. According to Gino Knubben, the NFC car key project manager, two-factor authentication can be added to encrypt communications between the car key and a contactless point-of-sale device.
Research scientist Steven Daemen demonstrated hearing aids that use low-power chips and magnetic induction radio to communicate with each other.
With magnetic induction over a short distance, there is a low degradation of radio signal strength through the human body. This enables the hearing devices to communicate and to give a stereo effect to the wearer.
"It's important to have a bi-directional link," says Daemen. "Normal hearing devices miss a stereo effect."
Spacialisation, where sounds heard in the earphones appear to be coming from specific points in space rather than through the inside of the head, can be added via an external processor, NXP said.