Fob and what it stands for

One of those rare occasions where Rebecca and I get to walk into work together, I asked her what “F.O.B.” stands for this morning. This is in reference to those keyless entry things that are becoming the standard for getting into many secured buildings. You wave it in front of the pad, something beeps or the light goes green, and the door unlocks to let you in.

The one for our building is smaller than my thumb. It’s too small to act like a key chain ornament, but the one I had in my old apartment in the states was big enough to hurt small children. Actually, it was more of a credit card in size, but you get the picture.

Turns out, and thanks to Wikipedia, this isn’t an abbreviation. It’s the given name of the device.

A key fob is a decorative item many people often carry with their keys, on a ring or a chain, for ease of tactile identification, to provide a better grip, or to make a personal statement. Key fobs are often mistakenly called “key rings” or “key chains” in colloquial usage.

Fobs vary considerably in size, style and functionality. Most commonly they are simple discs of smooth metal or plastic, typically with a message or symbol such as that of a logo (as with conference tchotchke) or a sign of an important group affiliation. A fob may be symbolic or strictly aesthetic, but it can also be a small tool. Many fobs are small flashlights, compasses, calculators, penknives, store discount cards, bottle openers, or USB flash drives.

Electronic key fobs are used for remote keyless entry systems on motor vehicles. Early electric key fobs operated using infrared and required a clear line of sight to function. These could be copied using a programmable remote control. More recent models use challenge-response authentication over radio frequency, so these are harder to copy and do not need line of sight to operate. Programming these remotes sometimes require the automotive dealership to connect a diagnostic tool but many of them can be self-programmed by following a sequence of steps in the vehicle and usually requires at least 1 working key. [wiki]

So now I know, and in case you didn’t, you do now. For the longest time, I thought it stood for something but never took the effort to find out until now. Sadly, it’s not “frequency operated bobber” like Rebecca thought, but I think it should be from now on.


4 Replies to “Fob and what it stands for”

  1. On geeking out on wiki, I like the disambiguation page for all the other meanings.

    Fob (not the acronym), I’ve long known as the “keychain”. To me, access cards are access cards especially if they are the size of a credit card.

    F.O.B. I’ve only known so far as Fresh Off the Boat… slightly derogatory but so convenient to use. The medical uses of F.O.B. (Father of the Baby, Fecal Occult Blood) interest me the most.

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