Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mythbusters: Can you increase the range of a car alarm remote with your head (and why)?

Have you ever walked away from your car only to forget whether or not you’ve locked your car?
Or how about being in a parking lot but forgetting where you’ve parked?

In both these cases, you’ve probably wanted to use your car alarm remote to lock your door or find your car. But if you’re too far away for the remote to reach, there’s a neat little trick you can do.

If you put the key fob under your chin, it will increase the range by a couple of yards.

There is no question of whether this is a myth or not. It is definitely true. Not only is there plenty of video evidence on the web, but it’s a simple enough experiment that you can try on your own car.

However, figuring out why this works is something there is less agreement on....

Some people say that it “has nothing to do with your head” but that since the remote gets lifted higher up and positioned vertically, it has fewer barriers to pass.

Others have claimed it’s because you’re “tuning / detuning the antenna to a slightly different frequency.

As it turns out, it works because “your body picks up the radio signal and acts like a large aerial, transmitting it more effectively to the car.” Basically, by putting the remote on your body (any part of the body, not just your head), your body becomes a big antenna.

New Scientific’s explanation is corroborated with Varipose’s colorful diagrams of how a body reacts to a car alarm remote.

Now, I don’t claim to understand the science behind any of this, and maybe my sources are wrong and it doesn’t have anything to do with your head. However, if I had to choose between believing a blog commenter or a fact-checked magazine and a scientific product, I would always choose the latter.

PS. Thanks to for the New Scientific link. Metafilter: the only place where people consistently back up their anecdotal observations with citations.


Anonymous said...

i can only imagine that this too gives you cancer

Alex said...

i still don't believe it.

Jessie said...

haha that's pretty cool lol.. i should steal someones car and try to do it =]

Unknown said...

But but ... you're already holding the remote in your hand, doesn't that "make your body an antennae" without needing to touch the remote to yet another part of your body?

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