How to Extend the Range of Your Car Remote

key-fob

If you’ve ever walked around a parking lot trying to remember where you parked, clicking the alarm button on your key fob is a great way of playing Marco Polo to find your vehicle. But what if your vehicle is parked beyond the range of your remote? Or maybe you simply forgot to lock your vehicle and don’t want to walk back within range to lock it? Here’s an easy trick to extend the range of your remote.

Simply hold the remote (transmitter) against your head and click the button. I’ve seen this done by touching it to your noggin – as the guy in the Top Gear show demonstrates below – and also by placing the remote under your chin. Either way it seems to increase your car’s remote distance by 2 to 3 times. (Your mileage may vary.)

The New York Times asked a Silicon Valley radio engineer, Tim Pozar, for his take on how the trick turns your head into a DIY antenna.

Mr. Pozar explains, “You are capacitively coupling the fob to your head. With all the fluids in your head it ends up being a nice conductor. Not a great one, but it works.

I wasn’t familiar with the phrase “capacitively coupling”, but a quick Google turned up this definition from Princeton.edu: In electronics, capacitive coupling is the transfer of energy within an electrical network by means of the capacitance between circuit nodes.

Alrighty then.

My next thought was, what’s all this “capacitively coupling” going to be doing to my brain? Am I going to have to start wearing an aluminum-foil hat the rest of the day to offset the effects? Then I thought about all of the wireless waves beaming through my cranium as they deliver my GPS directions, radio music, and oh yeah, that cell phone I keep pressing to my ear. I decided a few extra pulses probably weren’t going to make much of a difference. Especially went it is broiling out and my car is lost in a huge parking lot.

 

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