Near Field Communication (NFC) is shaping up to be one of the hottest tech trends for 2011 now that payment systems and new handsets (driven by the Gingerbread build of Android and presumably, a near-term iOS release) are making their way into the US and Europe. Add BMW to the growing list of supporters with its NFC key of the future. Bimmer researchers envision linking the key to the car's navigation and entertainment system allowing you to make hotel reservations or purchase train tickets, for example. You could then download the ticket directly from your car to the key which could then be used to board the train. Later, a key linked to your banking information could even be used to settle the hotel bill. BMW believes its approach is more secure than that of an NFC-enabled cellphone because its system is both closed and encrypted. Possibly. But we're still more likely to have our cellphone in a pocket while traveling than the key to a car parked a few hundred miles away. Of course, there's nothing preventing us from tapping the key to our cellphone and transferring the data -- it is still in the R&D phase for the next generation of ConnectedDrive after all. Click through for the video.

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