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What Is a Key Fob? Comparing Car Keys and Key Fobs

Similar to smart cards and biometric keyless entry fobs, key fobs are small-sized electronic devices that enable access to a number of physical objects, mostly vehicles, and garages. When used in relation to the automotive locksmith industry, car key fobs refer to small devices with buttons used to lock and unlock the doors of a key fobs

To learn what is the key fob's full form, how it works, what fob stands for, what an apartment key fob is, or what the differences between a car key and a key fob are - read on. Our professional locksmith team have prepared a brief and informative guide we believe you would find useful.

What Is a Car Key Fob and How Does It Work?

Car key fobs are handheld remote controls used to manipulate remote keyless entry systems. They incorporate small antennas and RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) chips. They rely on radio frequencies to convey and receive messages from RFID tags located inside reader devices. The latter needs to be attached to locking systems. All key fob chips are meant to send certain types of RFID tag information which perfectly aligns with the information that the reader devices have been pre-programmed to receive and accept.

Once the user presses down on a dedicated button, the key fob proceeds to send an RFID signal or information to the reading device. Provided the RFID signal sent from the key fob perfectly matches the information that the reader is ready to accept, the system will proceed to open the car’s door.

However, this is not the only purpose of a car key fob. These devices can be programmed to send a variety of other commands such as to open a certain door including the vehicle’s trunk or to start the engine. Car key fob units feature several functions that have been assigned to all the buttons on them.

How Are Car Keys Different from Key Fobs?

On older car models, standard key fobs are an addition to the car keys themselves. However, in newer versions, key fobs have completely replaced the regular car keys. When this is the case, the respective fobs are called keyless fobs. Besides being used to lock and unlock doors and trunks, keyless fobs are also used to start the car or engage security alarm systems in case of emergency.

Today, most vehicle owners have stopped relying on classic metal keys and began using available alternatives that provide better protection and more versatility and comfort, including remote control key fobs and transponder chips.

RFID key fobs are safer than physical car keys, even though successful attempts of breaking into vehicles that use them have been recorded over the years. Nonetheless, key fobs on newer car models have additional security features to prevent the signal from key fobs from being intercepted and copied.

The devices mostly use pseudo-random sequence generators for sending unique sequences for unlocking the doors. Key fobs' RFID systems are usually keyed to the same sequence. The newly generated code will activate the locks while making the old code versions useless.

Key fob enclosures, security pouches such as the Faraday bag, and other security solutions are also used to increase protection on key fobs.

What Does FOB in Key Fob Represent?

The word “fob” is thought to originate in the late 1800s, when back pocket watches called watch fobs started to grow in popularity and turned into a common accessory for many people. The watch fob represented a small ornament, ribbon, or chain that was tied to the pocket watch. The actual word “fob” was probably derived from the German word “fuppe” which translates to “pocket”.

Prior to key fobs earning their new definition of electronic devices, they were used to describe decorative keychains or trinkets in the 20th century.

Benefits of Using Key Fobs on Cars

There are numerous benefits of using key fobs on cars instead of standard car keys. Here are some of the most important of them:

Enhanced reliability. Copied car keys can break easily, especially after repeated or improper use over the years, or when kept in improver weather conditions in high humidity environments. When copied keys have been manufactured with the help of poor-quality materials that do not comply with the industry standards, or using substandard key-cutting gear, the end result is prone to break sooner than the original keys. By comparison, a top-quality RFID chip is a better option likely to last for longer.

Higher levels of protection. It is easy to lose, break, or have a physical key stolen or copied with the intention of gaining unauthorized access to a vehicle. When a key fob is lost or misplaced, it can be quickly and easily disengaged from a remote distance.

Manipulation speed and comfort. Car key fobs have turned the locking and unlocking procedure of vehicles into an ultra-fast process by eliminating the extra key fumbling stress. This is particularly helpful for people who suffer from certain disabilities that are having a hard time turning physical keys into switches.

Easy reprogramming. When car key fobs are lost or when there is a suspicion they have been stolen, having them reprogrammed by a professional automotive locksmith only usually takes a few minutes. Our experts can easily reprogram both key fobs and locks while saving car owners from the added stress and expenses of having to buy and install new locks and physical keys.

What Are Apartment Key Fobs?

An apartment key fob is a long-range access control device that enables a user to enter common areas of apartment buildings. These same devices can be used for opening garages while simultaneously entering the building. They range from standard proximity key fobs to encrypted fobs such as garage clickers, key cards, dual frequency tags, and key tags, to name a few.

If you need assistance with choosing the right apartment key fob or reprogramming a faulty key fob on your car, give us a call today!