A key fob is a tiny handy remote control device controlling your car’s remote keyless entry system. When you press the unlock button on your fob and hear the reassuring chirp of the car’s unlocking mechanism, all thanks to the unassuming but mighty key remote. Besides, nothing is better than a shiny new car key!
Sit back, relax, and the UK time will explain everything about these tiny pieces of innovative technology, as there is much more to the fob design, use, and technology than one might realize.
Electronic Car Key
The electronic key fob is the ideal example of technology advancement that many people use in daily life but do not pay much attention or thought to. These small handy devices proved to be groundbreaking for developing car remote key entry systems, automotive or otherwise. It only takes a few seconds to lose yours to grasp how important these are in your daily life.
What is a key fob?
In the UK Time today’s article, we shall look into this question more deeply – and we will touch all aspects of the modern fob, including the key fob repair, key fob replacement, and more. We will also discuss how these handy little devices are an essential part of an RFID key system and how to choose the perfect one while building a device – or secure access system that needs a handheld remote control.
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Basics to Know
There are 5 basic principles that define handheld fobs as they are made, designed, and used:
An automatic fob is a small remote control device with an RFID chip with an antenna inside. Using radio frequencies to communicate with another RFID tag inside the reader device, which is wired to the car’s locking system. Each chip is developed to transmit precise RFID tag data which matches what the reader chip has been pre-programmed to accept.
When the button on the electronic key fob is pressed, it transmits a unique RFID signal to the reader chip device. If the RFID information from the electronic key matches what the reader is pre-programmed to accept, the system will smoothly unlock the car door.
RFID fobs are incredibly versatile and can be preset to transmit various commands. Normally, these include opening a specific door or starting the engine. Most electronic fob remotes have multiple functions allocated to different buttons.
An ordinary fob fits in a plastic enclosure small enough to be held in your hands. Some fobs are badges that only need to be passed in front of an electronic lock to open it. Other electronic car key remotes come with more buttons, transmitting RFID signals. Each button is assigned to perform a specific function – such as locking the car, locking it, or opening the trunk.
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The electronic key fob is mostly used today in remote keyless entry systems for automobiles. But, the technology had much wider and diverse applications – about which we will talk about later. The thing to note is that diversity roots from many inherent benefits that fobs offer.
The other pressing question is: why have the fobs have gone on to become such a universal technology in the modern world? The answer to this question is simple and lies in the numerous advantages of the fobs for different kinds of systems.
There are several benefits of using an automatic key system for a vehicle or any other different application. Among manifold advantages of the innovative fobs, some are mentioned below:
Duplicate keys are unreliable, or more so if these are manufactured using sub-par materials or equipment. A premium quality RFID chip is a dependable and lasting solution.
Physical keys are susceptible to losses and can be copied to prevent unauthorized access, while a misplaced fob can easily be deactivated remotely.
It is easier to reprogram fobs and locks when the remote device is misplaced. Saving you the expense of key fob replacement and changing the locks.
The new car key remotes make it extremely easy and fast to unlock a vehicle or anything else with an electronic locking system. These tiny devices can also make daily tasks easier for disabled and special needs people – who have trouble turning a physical key.
Multi-button fobs provide you with an easy way to merge numerous functionalities into a small handheld portable device.
The automatic fobs can be personalized/customized to offer only certain areas, making them perfect for applications needing restricted access.
Many passive fobs do not need a battery, ad these are powered through the magnetic energy transmitted in-between the reader and the antenna. Many modern fobs come with a battery; however, these wrist watch style batteries last for a long time before needing a replacement.
These and many more advantages of the innovative fobs have steered its widespread adoption and accelerated development. However, the compact fobs weren’t always like this.
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History of the Key Fob
The word “fob” was coined for a small handy tag in the late 1800s with the rise of a watch fob. In the past, when pocket watches were a fairly common accessory, the watch fob was only a tiny ribbon, ornament, or chain attached to a pocket watch. The word fob is likely rooted in the German word fuppe, which means pocket.
Before the fobs became electronic devices, they were essentially another word for decorative key chains in the 20th century. If you happen to mention a fob to a person in the 1960s, they would undoubtedly picture a small trinket-like accessory attached to a set of keys – possibly a miniature photograph or a sports team logo. The modern fobs get their name from the older definition.
The modern fobs gained new traction when the remote keyless entry systems became available worldwide during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The initial models of remote keyless systems used infrared waves but posed massive disadvantages such as needing an uninterrupted line of sight, and also, these were very easy to intercept. The RFID became the dominant technology in modern models, owing to its enhanced reliability and security.
These days the keyless systems predominately come with advanced features. Some of them are designed to activate a powered liftgate feature, which lifts the door of the automobile’s rear hatch – an ideal feature to easily off-load a bunch of groceries items. At the same time, other keyless systems can be used to start the car’s engines remotely, an outstanding feature to warm up the vehicle on a cold day.
Additional Fobs Applications & Uses
A car remote key system can serve various purposes and be used for multiple applications other than controlling vehicle systems. An electronic fob can become the ideal choice for any system that needs a handy control method. This is possible as the multiple fobs can be programmed to respond with the same reader through an open-access platform.
Scanning key for Building Doors
One of the most common applications for open-access key systems is the creation of secure access systems for buildings, eliminating the need for physical keys. The physical keys have always been a potential security risk and are cumbersome to carry if multiple discrete points of access are necessary. As opposed to handing over and managing tons of keys, i.e., an apartment building owner can create electronic tenant keys that provide access to a single unit and the common areas while not providing any access to other apartment units or restricted areas.
Electronic fobs are ideal for creating controlled access in industrial and commercial facilities. Using the backend software, which controls all inter-connected RFID readers from a common server, the facility administrators can access/program fobs remotely, in addition to creating multiple levels of access. This is an ideal solution in facility types ranging from hospitals to factories.
Smaller household systems and devices needing a remote control, such as garage door openers, are perfect examples of remote fobs. The handy, small size outlook of the fob enclosures makes them suitable for daily applications, while their safety features help make homes more secure.
It is highly important for the manufacturers of any wireless remote device to take precautions and ensure the devices are secure. While the remote fobs are more secure than the physical keys, they can still be vulnerable to certain abuses if they are not secured properly. Burglars and thieves have unfortunately used these tactics to steal cars, break into houses and commit other crimes.
These days, electronic car key remotes have added security features to prevent the signals from being intercepted or copied. Mostly the fobs use pseudo-random sequence generators to transfer a specific/unique sequence each time. As the fob’s RFID system is keyed to a similar sequence, the new code will activate the lock, but it can’t be opened with a reproduced or from an old code.
If security is your top priority for the fob application, it is quite easier to introduce extra measures, keeping your fobs systems secure. i.e., some of the fob systems can keep a permanent record of which fobs have been used to enter and when these were used. Additionally, it is also easy to change locks when needed. Instead of having the lock physically re-keyed, the fobs can be reprogrammed to alter its authentication procedures.
Important things to look for in Key Fob Enclosure
You need to pay attention to a few things while choosing an electronic fob. What are the criteria that you need to look for? Below are some essential factors to consider:
Fob casings must have a compact design, which is easy to be held in the hands while being big enough to carry/adjust the required components.
The fob enclosures must come with the necessary hardware, including the buttons for the smooth operation of the device and screws to hold it all together. Plus, key fob repair services should also be readily available.
Fob enclosures should accommodate a printed circuit board (PCB) of the size that your application requires.
The fobs and their enclosures should be made using durable materials, which can stand up to being constantly and repeatedly handled and potentially dropped. If the fob needs repairs, however, then key fob repair services and key fob replacement for the models should be economical and accessible.
Fob enclosures in the market should be available at an affordable price point, most importantly if you need to create a large number of car remote key and systems.
The fob casings/enclosures should come with a design that serves the purpose while perfectly matching the profile of your specific application.
New car key fobs can also be customized using custom digital printing and CNC machine cutouts. You can have printed key enclosures with top-quality designs and graphics – for better instructional or branding purposes.
How to get new car key fob?
The surest and perfect way to replace a fob is by buying a new one from any car dealer near you.
Where to get a new key fob?
More often than not, your local car dealer is your best bet to source a replacement fob for your vehicle.
Lost car key fob what to do?
If you happen to lose your fob only, then you are ok. Use your key to unlock the vehicle for now and start it. As far as the fobs are concerned, they are readily available as aftermarket products and are easily re-programmable – you won’t be needing a special tool to program a fob.
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