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What is a Key Fob? 

May 17, 2022


Woman holding a car key. The steering wheel and dashboard are in the background. She is about to press the key buttons. Close up with copy space.

Key fobs are the small handheld devices you use to open your car doors. Secure and efficient,  despite their diminutive size, this tiny technology is also mighty.

Key fobs work by using RFID technology that allows keyless entry for cars and buildings alike. Created in 1983, and now in common use, the key fob unlocks or opens doors electronically, primarily operating through what’s called passive radio frequency identification. These electromagnetic waves exchange relevant data and perform the important but often unsung task of opening doors. 

Your key fob is a tiny remote control device. Inside, there’s an RFID chip along with an antenna. Using radio frequencies, that chip communicates with a different RFID tag located in a locking system, transmitting programmed, matching tag information.

Once the key fob button is pressed, it transmits the RFID signal to the appropriate reader device. If the information sent from the key fob matches the reader, the door that’s programmed to accept the information opens.  

Key Fobs are Versatile and Programmable

Inside a key fob’s small plastic enclosure, the technology can be programmed to have multiple functions.  

Along with locking and unlocking doors, a key fob can be:

  • Programmed to open a vehicle’s trunk or rear hatch
  • Set or activate a vehicle alarm
  • Start a vehicle’s engine remotely
  • Unlock a door to a residence or business

The Many Advantages of Key Fobs

Today, key fobs are a part of modern life.  Long-lasting, reliable, and secure, if a key fob is ever lost, it can even be remotely deactivated. And they’re easy to reprogram, too.

But perhaps the most important advantage of a key fob is how quick and easy they are to use and access. Key fobs make it so simple to unlock a vehicle or any door equipped with an electronic locking system, that we hardly notice their efficiency.

While many use batteries, the cell-like batteries are similar to a watch battery, and just as long-lasting. 

Where Did Key Fobs Come From?

Key fobs were once merely decorative devices on key chains. But the style of these miniature fobs first began to be used as remote keyless entry systems during the 1980s. At that time, they used infrared waves rather than RFID technology, but this type of system was less secure and required a direct sightline to a lock to function properly. 

Beyond Vehicle Entry Systems

Along with allowing remote entry and various other functions for a vehicle, key fobs can be used to:

  • Lock or unlock buildings
  • Lock or unlock individual businesses or residences
  • Lock or unlock common areas
  • Open garage doors
  • Set home security systems

And, key fobs can perform all these functions securely, without using cumbersome physical keys. 

Key Fobs Are Secure

And speaking of security, key fobs today use a variety of features to prevent signal interception or copying. They utilize sequence generators which create unique and random ways to transmit a signal that locks or unlocks each time they are utilized. And, additional security measures can also be added, such as keeping a permanent record of key fob use, or allowing reprogramming for entry authentication.

Learn More about Key Fobs at Texas Premier Locksmith

If you’d like to learn more about key fob use, or if you need a new key fob, reprogramming, or a new key fob battery, Texas Premier Locksmith is ready to help. 

We have the skills and tools to get any key fob work done, at a rate that is often more reasonable than your car dealership can offer. 

Call Texas Premier Locksmith at (866) 948-8188, today – we have locations throughout Texas, and offer professional, prompt, and friendly service regardless of your key fob needs.