Apple is set to revolutionize the traditional door key with introduction of a hi-tech alternative nicknamed the 'iKey'. It means people can stop carrying around a set of keys, and use a single electronic device to unlock their car, front door and gain access to their office.
The technology may require the user to enter a pin code and wave the device over an electronic pad fitted beside a door to open it. A newly published patent application, filed with the US Patent Office, contains the details of the new technology. It is speculated that the next model of the iPhone will contain this feature.
The application states: "The device can communicate with an external device to open a lock. By way of example, the electronic device may be a model of an iPhone. "The external device may be any suitable electronic device such as a portable media player, personal data assistant or electronic lock that may be used to access a door, car, house or other physical area."
For safety purpose, the device may be attributed with a feature to encrypt any information that passes between the iPhone and the computer-controlled lock, preventing hackers from listening. If this is true, it is a very big deal. As well as opening doors and unlocking your car, it could also turn your iPhone into an electronic wallet and ID card.
Gizmodo have sketch how this device embedded within your iPhone could work. "At its surface, a recently uncovered Apple patent application describes a Motion Based Input Selection. But a closer look reveals that Apple wants the iPhone to become your life's omnitool." The picture below from Gizmodo shows how moving your phone can unlock your front door.
This is massive for Apple ... you could be able to pay for buses and trains, your morning coffee and groceries by swiping your iPhone on a pad, and the price is electronically deducted from your account.
If granted, the application filed at US Patent house will offer Apple legal protection from other companies copying its ideas and technology. Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, said: "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."