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Ford Escape Taps Capacitive Sensing for Hands-Free Liftgate
3/21/2012

The 2013 Ford Escape will use capacitive technology to operate a hands-free power liftgate.   (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
The 2013 Ford Escape will use capacitive technology to operate a hands-free power liftgate.
(Source: Ford Motor Co.)

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williamlweaver
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Automobile Information Network
williamlweaver   3/21/2012 7:35:50 AM
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I know DesignNews continues to cover automobile data networks, but it is innovations like this liftgate sensor that makes them all the more imperative. As automotive engineers continue to instrument each sub-system on the platform, a common, multiplexed information network will be imperative as we continue. Yards of low-gauge automotive signal and power wire will only serve to increase cost and complexity. Can an on-board, distributed fiber-optic network be far behind?

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Rob Spiegel   3/21/2012 1:54:39 PM
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Yes, this is a very clever idea. It will be interesting to see if it is useful enough to get picked up by the industry at large. Not sure this rises to the level of intermittent windshield wipers, but who knows?

TJ McDermott
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Re: Automobile Information Network
TJ McDermott   3/21/2012 6:42:26 PM
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Ever been stopped just as you were going to load your car?  A neighbor calls your name, and you turn to see why, or your spouse calls from the front door to add to your shopping list?  I can see this door giving you a whack from accidental detection, the "intent" described in the article.

Still, I like the idea very much; the cost added to the power package will be my deciding factor.

Mr. Weaver's comment about an onboard network is bang-on as well, though I don't think it will go to fiber optic.  Bussed sensors (Devicenet or the like) already exist; getting them down in cost should work for mass auto production.

Zippy
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Zippy   3/22/2012 12:43:41 PM
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From this video, you would be hard-pressed to accidently trigger the gate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DLKTO03Q7o

The rate of movement of the gate is also pretty leisurely.

Nevertheless, just when you build something that's idiot-proof, they build better idiots!    :)

Charles Murray
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Charles Murray   4/13/2012 6:48:22 PM
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Great video, Zippy. Thanks for heads-up. The interesting thing is that the one guy wasn't sure how he opened the liftgate.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Rob Spiegel   3/22/2012 6:49:46 PM
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I must say, TJ, you came up with a creative downside to the automatic trunk opener. I think this feature offers a very tiny plus to a vehicle. But it's a plus nonetheless.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Automobile Information Network
TJ McDermott   3/22/2012 6:51:57 PM
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Oh, it's a plus, I agree.  I rented a car last month, and enjoyed a keyless fob for the first time.  Push-start, unlock doors as you grab the handle, just because the fob was in my pocket.  It was quite an enjoyable experience.

But I don't think I'd pay extra for it.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Rob Spiegel   3/22/2012 6:58:15 PM
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I agree about not paying extra for it. Yet there have been countless times I've stood in front of a car's trunk with my arms full of grocery bags or luggage. Heck, I was cheap-thrilled when I had a car that had a button in the glove compartment that opened the trunk. My next car didn't have that feature and I actually missed it.

Charles Murray
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Charles Murray   3/23/2012 7:04:26 PM
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I have to admit, I'm a bit of a Luddite when it comes to extra features, so I probably wouldn't be willing to pay for this. The problem is, all features come in groups -- some optional, some standard -- and buyers often end up paying for them whether they know it or not.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Rob Spiegel   3/26/2012 12:44:03 PM
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I agree, Chuck. I don't pay extra for anything. Yet I've ended up with some nice features either because I bought a used car that happened to have features or the car that was on the lot (that I didn't have to wait for) happened to have features. Some of those features, though, have been fine -- like the glove compartment button that opens the trunk.

Charles Murray
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Charles Murray   3/26/2012 8:09:53 PM
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Rob, I never thought I would need automatic doorlocks on my cars, but now I'm hooked. It's a lot easier than turning around and locking every door in the car. It's easy to get used to some of these little luxuries.  

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Rob Spiegel   3/27/2012 11:13:47 AM
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Yes, as little as it might seem, automatic door locks are a big deal if you have a minivan with a bunch of kids going in an out of a bunch of car doors -- as well as packing stuff in the back. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Charles Murray   3/29/2012 9:48:21 PM
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The other "luxury" I've learned to like is the remote key fob. I wouldn't place it in the same category as automatic door locks, but I've learned to like the idea of hearing the beep when I remotely lock the door. I'm one of those people who can never remember if I've locked the door. By pressing on the key fob and hearing the beep, I know it's locked.

Charles Murray
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Charles Murray   3/21/2012 9:27:21 PM
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You're right, Bill. There's now about 70 pounds of signal and power wire inside the average vehicle. Something's gotta change.

VadimR
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Gold
Re: Automobile Information Network
VadimR   3/22/2012 9:30:38 AM
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If you want the feature, why not put a kick plate on the back of the bumper or a switch next to the tow hitch?  In both cases there is no need to verifying intent because you must be intentional to press the switch.

I personally think that we have way too many sensors and gadgets in cars.  Lets keep it simple!  The more complicated we make them, the more expensive cars become, the more likely they are to fail, and the more expensive they are to fix when they do fail.

Charles Murray
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Re: Automobile Information Network
Charles Murray   3/22/2012 6:42:53 PM
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I must say I like your "keep it simple" philosophy, VadimR, but we're going to lose that battle. Every time I attend an auto show, there's a handful of new sensor-based systems that I'd never seen before.

MidNightOil08
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Iron
Re: Automobile Information Network
MidNightOil08   4/17/2012 2:46:11 PM
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I thought BMW made it popular for the first time.

Tim
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Sensing security
Tim   3/21/2012 6:43:41 PM
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This is a great use of sensing techology to make something hands free and more user friendly.  I would like to know how long it is necessary to keep your foot under the bumper to have the tailgate completely rise.  Hopefully, you would be able to trigger the movement then be able to back up to stay out of the way of the lifting hatch. 

Charles Murray
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Re: Sensing security
Charles Murray   3/21/2012 9:18:51 PM
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It's just a quick kick, Tim. Hopefully, we will soon have a video up here to show how it's done.

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