While some patents pertain to genuinely groundbreaking technology, most of them center around improvements on existing concepts. Today, we’re looking at a great example of the latter. Through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, I’ve discovered that auto parts and manufacturing giant Magna has patented the remote garage door opener. Wait, what?
Alright, so this isn’t a patent on the garage door opener as a whole, but rather a certain design of garage door opener. See, in recent years, homeowners have been able to use Homelink in their vehicles or their garage door opener remote everywhere else, but that left a little bit of white space. What if you could take your vehicle’s built-in universal garage door opener everywhere you go?
Indeed, judging by Magna’s patent, this new rear-view mirror design contains a three-button universal garage door opener secured inside the mirror by a tiny clip. The buttons are accessible along the bottom edge of the mirror, and the whole remote is self-contained. This means that there’s a little button-cell lithium-ion battery in the remote (though, unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to get automatically recharged by the car using contacts in the mirror assembly). While replacing batteries in a remote sounds like more of a pain in the ass than wired Homelink, Magna’s design has some distinct advantages.
Let’s say that your car is parked on your driveway overnight, and petty thieves successfully get into the vehicle. They’re not looking to catch a grand theft auto charge, but they’ll happily relieve you of anything you may keep in your car. Spare change, pens, that sort of stuff. However, a built-in garage door opener that’s actually connected to your garage door gives petty thieves easy access to all the nice stuff you have in your garage. If you’re able to take the remote with you, it makes it harder for thieves to break into your garage, and deterrence is the first line of theft prevention.
In addition, let’s say you’re working late and your kids are planning on biking straight home from school. If you’re smart, you probably don’t have a keypad-style deadbolt on your front door as they’re often massively vulnerable to simple attacks, and lending them the garage door opener gives them convenient access to bike storage. Just pop it out of the rear-view mirror and boom, problem solved.
Oh, and if someone hits your car and you’re in a rental while it’s in the body shop, or if you’re in a loaner car while your daily driver is at the dealership getting some recall work done, having an easily-removable garage door opener makes it a little bit more convenient to get into your garage. No need to clip the bulky opener that came with your garage door system to your temporary vehicle’s sun visor, Magna’s removable module is rather compact. Plus, it has a little loop on the back so you can chuck it on your keyring. How convenient is that?
Hold on, didn’t we have something like this years ago? Yes, yes we did. Welcome to the early 2000s, when automakers were trying to make space for garage door openers in family vehicles. Here’s a textbook example: The first-generation Toyota Sienna had a dedicated garage door opener cubby. Stick a little bit of Velcro on your garage door opener, pop it in the cubby, and suddenly you had an integrated removable garage door opener hidden behind a cover in your headliner. It was a bit of a hassle to set up with spacers possibly needed to take up the space between the button on the cover and the garage door opener hook-and-looped to the top of the cubby, but it resulted in a clean way to integrate a removable garage door opener into a vehicle.
With Magna’s removable garage door opener patent, it’s a case of what’s old being new again, with a bit of improvement along the way. Its removable nature should make it easier to pair than hardwired Homelink, add a sense of security, and generally make the garage door opener more useful. At the same time, it’s a lot more compact than just bringing your own garage door opener. All of this adds up to such an easy and cheap improvement that it really makes you wonder why anyone hasn’t thought of it sooner. While it’s tough to say which manufacturers will adopt this new design, this is a patent we could see on production cars in the near future.
(Photo credits: USPTO/Magna, Toyota)
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What exactly are they patenting? This LITERAL design has been in production for close to a decade – I even installed one in my daily driver.
Don’t believe me? Go search for the Chamberlain ARQ…
> If you’re smart, you probably don’t have a keypad-style deadbolt on your front door as they’re often massively vulnerable to simple attacks, and lending them the garage door opener gives them convenient access to bike storage
Or, you know, they can use their door key.
This seems like a complicated way to replace a clip on garage opener remotes we’ve had since, what, Jimmy Carter?
This is great, I just take my door opener in my pocket so it can keep the face plate for my car stereo company.
Huh? I have an old analog garage door opener the size of peppermint pattie. Bought 2 for $19.95. It clips to the anything is removable, easily programmed and replaced. Why do I need anything more? Now have an app that can open the garage door and every family member old enough has access. But yeah 9 switch analog opener no one is hacking that. But wait i live in the country so the walk in door is left unlocked. My neighbor can borrow and replace what he needs and we both own guns and are willing to shoot a burglar.
This seems like a step backwards from Homelink and Tesla’s integration.
You can buy these now. They’ve been out for at least four or five years, just marketed under different brands and part numbers.
Nissan Frameless Prism Mirror with UGDO (Universal Garage Door Opener, ARQ)
Mito Prismatic RearView Mirror with ARQ
Just use some velcro and mount the opener out of sight somewhere. Under the dash, under the seat near the front, behind the screen, etc.
So now I have to try to come up with a way to integrate a garage door opener into a blank toggle switch on a Jeep LJ’s dashboard.
I would just like to commend you on your taste in LJ colors.
(Can’t figure out how to link to a photo so here’s a page instead. https://opposite-lock.com/topic/840/the-jeep-experience-part-1-why-jeeps-matter)
Give me half-credit.
I wanted to change it to a dark blue/white scheme. Every.single.person.I.engaged.with. when I was looking for parts urged me to keep it solar yellow.
So I caved in. Once we refreshed the paint, it turned out so pretty I can’t believe I was thinking of changing it.
I’m pretty sure that the keypad makes “taking the remote out of the vehicle” a moot point.
Hmm. The claims aren’t limited to a Homelink device, so this could apply to any type of device you might want to add to your car: dash cam, BT microphone, GPS, Apple Airtag, poison gas antitheft canister, etc.
There’s another BIG vulnerability that was overlooked. If your garage is attached to the house, if they find the garage door opener, they now have access to the entire house.
And for those have locks on the door between the garage and the house, they’ll just close the garage door and bust through the door or wall as the noise won’t be heard by the neighbours.
It depends, my cars with integrated remotes, they are powered off when the car is off. So unless the person gain access to your car, they can’t get to your remote and by extension your house without your keys.
Yea but i will hear and the neighbor will hear my gun going off. Really what is so wrong with shooting a person who breaks into your house? Also i own my gun and ammo with no subscription plan. Guns are analog no hacking control point and click.
Do you plan to mention your guns in every comment?
The big vulnerability is just like if they REALLY want to get into your car or steal your car, if they REALY want to get into your house to steal stuff they will. I mean brick thru a window is fairly easy peasy and 90% of neighbors pay zero attention to what is going on in the neighborhood and won’t notice or think twice about it.
This feels like a reinvention of the detachable face car stereo. Still a clever idea, especially for us sysadmin types who distrust phone controlled locks
I think that this invention has been overtaken by events. Why even keep a remote in the car when a system that hooks a homelinked garage door opener to your phone is a much better solution. Doesn’t exist yet? I’m sure that it (or its functional equivalent) is just around the corner. The garage door remote is or will soon join the answering machine, the fax machine, and alarm clock in the Salvation Army donation box
They exist. There are also HomeKit, Google Assistant enabled ones, that can open the door when you approach. The advanage of those is you can have multiple things happen at once, eg turn on the lights when it is dark and open the garage. Much more limitless than a garage door remote.
Also homelink charges a subscription fee to access its API.
I use my phone to open the garage, that way I can give access to family members when I am not home, also if I left the house and don’t remember if I closed the garage, I can check quickly to confirm if its closed or not…
I wired one of these into my garage door opener:
$22. One fob is on my car keys and one on my motorcycle key. Range is 50+ yards. Extremely handy, even when not in the car.
That may be the fix for my garage
I’m gonna “well ackshually” about the dedicated garage door opener cubby – those predate the Sienna at least back to the ’80s as many vehicles had such a cubby for years as part of their available overhead consoles, most commonly domestic-brand SUVs and vans but some cars too.
Think they fell out of favor as overhead consoles shrunk and Homelink became more common and easier to add to more cars. And like stated in the article I think it was more of a hassle to fuss with spacers or the buttons wouldn’t line up. IIRC my parents would just open the cubby and hit the button on our Grand Voyager.
then why not just use the remotes that came with the opener attached to your visor?
since i can’t seem to be able to edit my comment, i want to add that with the ignition switch to off, neither my vehicles have operational homelink buttons.
Because everyone wants the newest tech even if it is worse and costs more. People be stupid!
So, in other words, they have re-invented those chunky remotes that my parents used in the ’80s, or the detachable head-unit faceplate from the ’90s.
seriously, yes. my garage opener came with remotes that can be attached to the keychain, and that is from 8-9 years ago. They are bulky for a keychain, but they have the visor clip too.
Reminds me of the single DIN car stereo removable faceplates from the 1990s. Remembering to take them off was a pain, and this would be, too. As for a portable garage door opener, there are $20 devices to integrate your garage door with the home automation solution of your choice (HomeKit, Alexa, etc.). Just use your phone or smartwatch. This seems like a solution looking for a problem. If mischief is of concern, then an easier fix would be to disable the integrated garage door opener in your car unless the ignition is on, or at least when your FOB is in range. Maybe I should patent that? Hmmm…
Leading to used car ads with missing faceplates saying “just missing faceplate, $20 fix I haven’t had time to fix”
Yeah sure buddy, that stereo is from 199X and there’s only one for sale on Ebay in Malaysia with $15 shipping costs.
Or a new upgrade stereo. An 80s stereo? Upgrade is like $50.
Fob is a word, not an acronym.
It is both, though in this case it is a word, but FOB means Freight On Board.
So what is this about keypad deadbolts being vulnerable to simple attacks? I have one on my front door. It’s not wireless enabled because IoT seems like a hot mess. The less networked interconnected Internet enabled devices in my house, the better.
Depends on the keypad, but the typical code is 4 digits, and a lot of the pads are actually only 5 separate numerical buttons (2 numbers per button). Combine that with wear on the frequently used buttons and the tendency to leave the same code in place indefinitely, and you have a pretty easily opened door.
That’s before you get into things like whether there are faults in the programming that allow someone to reprogram your door from outside or anything like that.
Sure, a good burglar with a pick could get open a keyed lock, but the keypad is simple and doesn’t require tools. And generally has a physical key backup, so it’s at least as vulnerable to the lockpick as a decent keyed lock, too.
For this reason, mine has 10 different buttons, and everyone in the household uses their own code so we don’t have obviously worn out numbers.
My in-laws had a 5 button one where the “4 digit” code really was a 2 button code, so 2 buttons got worn out and one could guess their code in about a minute
So why even have numbers signs on them? Cant wear off what you dont have?
Ford SecuriCode has entered the chat
Who uses the physical buttons? We use our phones to lock and unlock the doors. The real advantage of the electric lock system is that it can be set so that any time the door is opened a msg is sent to the phone (and with my system) a photo taken of whoever is opening the door.
Oh well i am still going to get one. I have locked myself out twice now. No local lock smith. So i break in the door. It is not as hard as cop shows make it look. Hell havent even repaired it since the last time.
Watch the Lock Picking Lawyer on YouTube for just 5 minutes and you’ll be convinced that no locks are safe. He has several showing how simple it is can be to defeat the keypad locks however he has even more showing how vulnerable the keyed locks are too.
I am well aware locks are generally there to keep honest people out. I just assumed the keypad deadbolt wasn’t any less secure than a standard deadbolt. Mine has 10 keys and it rarely gets used since I enter from the garage 99% of the time. I also touched all the buttons so fingerprint powder won’t work ;-P
Frankly, if someone wants into my house, they’re getting in; plenty of windows to break. They’ll be sorely disappointed in my “valuables”. A large blu-ray collection and a LOT of Star Trek comics from the 80’s – mid 90’s. I’m not even sure those comics are worth the inflation adjusted cover price. My Lego’s are probably the most valuable item in my house; sad.
Some of the smart keypads light up random numbers for you to press before you punch in your code to prevent a pattern from appearing. The ones I’ve seen defeated on his YT channel though rarely fail through the keypad but usually through the backup key lock or some other hardware flaw. It’s like the company spends all their time focusing on making the keypad then phone in the rest of the lock.
Bosnian Bill is even better, IMHO.
He is retired though.
Perfect system i dont have anything worth stealing.
I prefer motorized deadbolt mechanisms eg August (though the latest editions are problematic), vs ones with a keypad. At least the mechanisms won’t give away that your lock is electronic to anyone walking by. You still use the same lock cylinder (so can be as secure / insecure you want), but now there is motor turning it when it is needed.