What Is a Key Fob?
A key fob is a small remote-control device that is mainly used in keyless entry systems.
It gives access to a system or device such as a car, room, mobile device and computer system, or any other place where keyless entry is installed.
The user does not have to unlock using a real key and in addition, it is a handheld device which makes it convenient and more secure.
Many people usually carry them and use them especially to unlock and lock their cars but they don’t give much thought to them.
In this article, we will look more deeply into the many aspects of a key fob, its history, how it works, and whether is it secure enough.
History of the Key Fob
It evolved in the late 1800s when pocket watches were a thing. To make it easier for one to carry them they would invest in a watch fob which was a chain, small ribbon, or accessory that was attached to the pocket watch.
The word fob goes back to the Middle English era, and it originated from the German Fuppe which means pocket, or Germans foppen which means sneak proof since it used to be mainly used on watches and it would sneak a little when the watch was placed in the pocket.
Throughout the 90s and the 20th century, the fob was very famous as a decorative keychain or an ornament attached to a bunch of keys.
As the technology evolved and remote keyless entry systems started to become a thing in America in the late 80s and early 90s, key fobs emerged as small electronic devices which they used in cars.
The early key fob model used infrared waves which had a major disadvantage such that it required an uninterrupted line of sight that was easy to intercept.
Since then it has evolved and improved greatly in terms of security and reliability.
These days they are not only used to open cars but also used to start car engines remotely, secure homes, and also secure computer systems.
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How Does a Key Fob Work?
A key fob uses radio frequency identification which sends a distinct coded signal to the receiver which is installed in the device.
The transmitter sends a signal to the key fob which is then adjusted to the required frequency and then sent to the receiver.
This transmission of signals from the transmitter to the receiver takes place instantaneously when the user presses the button located on the key fob.
The key fob contains a radio frequency identification chip which is designed to transmit the specific information that a programmed receiver is required to accept.
For example, a room key fob or a car key fob will only open or lock the door of that specific item when instructed to and it is only compatible with that specific item meaning it cannot open any other door.
This means that if the information in the RFID chip request the key fob to lock and they do not match, the key fob will not operate on that item unless the information from the transmitter to the receiver matches.
If the key fob is designed in devices where an authentication factor is required which is a more secure way that helps one safeguard a network, device, or application installed in the device, the user must first enter a personal identification code to be able to access the device or network.
The key fob generates a passcode that validates if the information keyed in by the user is legitimate and hence authorizes access to the device or system.
This mode only works for a specific time frame and if it passes the user has to regenerate the passcode to gain access.
What Do You Need To Know?
First is that the user has to be within the range of the security system to ensure that the signal from the key fob can reach the device or system.
In recent years many key fobs have an impressive range that will allow them to function even when the user is a little bit far from the system.
The other thing you should know is that you should keep your key fob safe and secure at all times since disarming a key fob does not require any security identification.
This means that an intruder can be able to gain access to your car easily if they get hold of the key fob and know the specific system which it belongs to.
Lastly while the battery may last for many years, it will need to be replaced eventually which is easy to do.
As the owner, you can buy the replacement battery(s) in any convenience store and replace them without any assistance unless the key fob requires precaution to minimize damage of the vital internal parts.
What Do You Look For In a Key Fob?
There are various factors that one should consider when looking for a key fob that performs the specific function it is required to do. Here are some factors you should consider;
- A key fob should have a small and compact design that is easy to carry and hold in your hands.
- For any required function, a key fob should have all the required hardware such as buttons to operate all the settings. It should also be well secured and firm to withstand damage in case it falls.
- Since these days all electric devices usually contain a circuit board that contains all the active devices required to operate, a key fob should be able to accommodate a printed circuit board that is of the required size for its function.
- It should be made from a durable material that can withstand being handled repeatedly for a long period and probably being dropped a few times without excessive damage.
- A key fob should be within your budget, especially if you are buying multiple for different functions.
- It should be aesthetically pleasing to your eye, meaning that you should always choose a design that matches what you want not forgetting to ensure that functionality comes first.
Is a Key Fob Secure Enough?
The main function that a user or company is looking for when purchasing this device is to improve security in a certain area.
Although key fobs are said to be more secure than the general key method, they can be cracked and access granted if they are not properly installed.
Many people have had their cars, homes, and devices broken into even with a key fob installed.
To ensure such cases are reduced to the bare minimum, many key fob production companies have come up with designs that have multiple security features to prevent the signal from the transmitter from being intercepted and manipulated before it is received by the receiver.
They use a pseudo-random sequence generator to transmit unique information every time the user gives a command.
This generates a new code that is received and performs its function, meaning the old code which had been captured before cannot be used again.
The user can add additional measures to ensure that their key fob is more secure such as authentication identity also some key fobs keep a permanent record of how many times it has been used which makes it easy to change locks.
What Are The Benefits of Owning a Key Fob?
- The main benefit is that it provides additional security to a system or object which has been secured with a password or any other way which can be intercepted easily.
Such an occurrence may allow someone to gain access and steal important information, and documents or commit fraud.
Also, when a key fob is lost, the owner can just deactivate it remotely.
- A key fob made from high-quality material is a long-lasting solution for any individual willing to invest in it.
- A key fob is easily reprogrammable when one misplaces it.
This means that as long as you have a key fob not currently in use, you may just re-program it to replace the lost one hence reducing the expense of physically replacing the whole lock.
- It is very convenient to use a key fob since it is very fast and easy to unlock and lock an object or device by pressing the button to give commands.
- It is a small portable device that can hold multiple buttons that offer different functions.
- Users can customize their key fob according to the various functions they want it to perform which makes it suitable for areas that require restricted access.
- Many key fobs require a battery to function. Usually, this battery has a long life allowing the key fob to function for a very long period before the need to replace it arises.
Uses of a key fob
- The versatility and security of key fobs make them suitable for use in many commercial facilities such as factories, hospitals, laboratories, and multifunctional offices
- A key fob allows people to start their cars remotely, especially during chilly days.
- A key fob sets off an emergency alert system which makes it useful to locate your vehicle in a crowded parking area.
- Prevents home break-ins by activating the sound system when an intruder tries to gain access to your home.