Omron has introduced a new passive entry system that allows for hands-free locking and unlocking of cars and trucks. It should appear on 2005 model year vehicles.

The new system is an improvement on existing remote keyless entry (RKE) technology introduced in the early 1980s that uses one-way transmitters to send a signal to the vehicle to unlock a car door.

With the new system, drivers still carry an RKE fob transmitter but the new version uses two-way communication and allows the vehicle transponder to communicate back to the fob, which unlocks the car door or trunk when a driver touches the handle.

Omron says the system is convenient because drivers no longer need to search for keys in their pocket or purse — the car opens automatically when it senses a driver approach.

It also provides for a higher level of security than the traditional method used since the door does not unlock until the door handle is physically touched.

Omron uses radio frequency technology that sends a signal when the door handle is touched and believes this is the highest quality and most reliable passive entry system technology.

Other suppliers use optical devices or capacitive types, that sense an electrical charge in a driver’s body, for their systems.

The key fob is the same size as a conventional remote keyless entry fob and is designed to be carried in a pocket or handbag.

The driver will have the option of using the fob in the same manner as current keyless entry systems if he or she chooses.

Omron will produce the entire system, including all of the electronics, the transponder, radio frequency and the housing, in Japan and in North America.