Originally published October 30, 2014

Driver License on Smartphone
Driver’s licenses are already going digital in some states.

Car keys, and everything else in your wallet, are becoming a thing of the past.

Last fall’s drugstore controversy over Apple’s Apple Pay and the retailer consortium CurrentC generated a lot of publicity, but it uncovered a freight train leaving the station. There may have been casualties, but phone-based payments are here to stay. In a few short years, virtually no one will need or even want plastic credit cards.

Hard-copy photos went AWOL years ago, cash is rarely needed anymore, and even driver’s licenses are going digital. And a similar fate awaits most of the other items you carry on your person.

The last holdout of today’s pocket contents are the ubiquitous set of keys. We all have them, and a lot of us feel we have too many of them, they’re heavy, easily lost and a pain to replace.

NXP and Apple Logos
The dynamic duo that created ApplePay

Which suggests possibilities for NXP Semiconductors, the firm that builds the “NFC” chip technology in the iPhone 6 that drives the ApplePay system, and also drives the payment system in many Android phones. These chips can do way more than just process digital payments. Reuters reports that NPX has a set of NFC (near field communication ) chips designed for automobiles and is courting carmakers to pique their interest in the technology.

Door Key on Smartphone
NFC holds endless possibilities for making life more convenient and lightening your load.

The future holds the obvious — NFC chips in your phone and car that eliminates the key and the key fob in a secure manner. But like most things technological, the capabilities will likely expand and improve as the technology matures. It will get a lot easier to pair your smartphone with your car, to start your rental car with your phone, even to borrow your friend’s car (with his or her permission, but without keys).

When you combine this technology with apps on your phone, the possibilities are limitless — NXP engineers have plenty other applications up their sleeves. The same technologies that can replace your key can eliminate your need to carry a house key, and even a key ring. Soon the only thing left in your pockets may be literally dust.

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