Apple has patented technology to make the iPhone unlock doors. The iKey. To unlock a door with the iKey, users would enter a PIN code and then wave the phone in front of an NFC reader installed next to the door. As an additiona

l security layer, the phone itself would be used to identify the users.

According to the Telegraph, the technology will be included in the next generation of iPhones.

The iKey could be great way down the line, but as with anything NFC, there needs to be sufficient readers in the ecosystem to make something like this really work. With an ecosystem in place, though the iKey would be a wonderful convenience.

But until there’s any sort of ubiquity, one would imagine that users would have to have their keys with them anyway. Who wants to get locked out their house if their phone or battery dies?

The bigger news is that the patent gives clear-cut ideas of how Apple is incorporating NFC into its devices. Apple’s entry into the sector could really speed up adoption of the technology.

The facts that adoption is needed on both consumer and service ends, and that two components are required -- enabled devices and dedicated readers --  pose the biggest challenge to the industry. So the fact that Apple is planning to incorporate it should be great news to NFC companies. Apple has a proven track record in changing ecosystems, and only one or two popular apps could be enough to accelerate consumer demand for NFC (or in fact create it).

The iKey patent also shows the iPhone communicating with computers, which is exciting to a lot of consumers, as streamlining the process of intra-device communication could definitely be streamlined.

In other Apple news, FBR Capital chip analyst Craig Berger has predicted that the Cupertino-based company will build 5 million iPads in the first half of 2010, saying that the rumored production delays were “a false alarm.”

By Mark Alvarez