NXP: automotive semiconductor market is a multi-lane highway

Dutch semiconductor specialist continues its drive at Mobile World Congress in the Catalan capital of Barcelona this week with a series of announcements no doubt saved up specially for the occasion.

Multi-lane highway

The firm has fingers in several industry pies (from entertainment and onwards) but has a dedicated focus on the automotive semiconductor market from connected cars to intelligent traffic lights to vehicle ‘platooning’ technologies and onwards – it is, very arguably, a multi-lane highway.

As the co-inventor of Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, NXP is this month upbeat about the fact that five leading car OEMs have said that they will equip their future cars with NFC devices from NXP.

NFC driving forward

This technology is supposed to enable secure interactions between smartphones and smart cars for functions such as complementary car access, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi pairing, personalisation and payment.

Although not prevalent and popular in every country in the world, NFC has made in-roads (pun not intentional) in some Western nations including the United Kingdom. NXP suggests that we will now see NFC devices capable of interacting within smart city infrastructures to provide secure access to hotel rooms, health clubs, public transport, parking entry, stadiums and other smart cars.

Automotive NFC capabilities

NFC deployed in the automotive market can enable us to grant and revoke access to a vehicle on a secure, restricted basis for multiple users such as family and friends; provide flexible fleet management and car sharing solutions; secure Bluetooth and Wi-Fi pairing; conduct Point-of-Interest transfer from a smartphone to the car’s navigation system; enable in-car purchases; alert the driver of maintenance status via over-the-air updates; and adjust the car’s personalised settings such as seats and mirrors.

The developer angle

The NXP NCx3320 is an automotive-grade NFC frontend IC optimised for secure car access – it has low-power operation and phone/card detection distance and it comes with a generic software library, which is portable across different MCUs, reducing (so claims NXP) application development times.

“Our expertise in NFC, security and automotive has made us the trusted advisor to automotive OEMs on applications that securely connect smart cars and smartphones,” said Rainer Lutz, director of new business for secure car access at NXP. “The NXP NCx3320 further extends our portfolio and the corresponding reference design makes us the competent sparring partner for Tier 1s to build robust solutions even in the most challenging environments.”

NFC-based smart access doesn’t need cellular service or Wi-Fi to operate and can still open and start a car even if the battery is dead. Whatever the situation — an underground parking garage, a remote rural area, or some kind of emergency — the smartkey remains an essential device, providing manual backup for opening and starting the car.