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Ford patent breathes EV life into B-pillar keypad

For those who don't own a Ford, yes, it's still quite the popular piece of tech.

1. Hard buttons on keypad: Designers wanted smooth capacitive touch keypad buttons on the outside of the driver-side door, but pickup truck drivers prefer tactile feedback, allowing easier usability for when they’re wearing gloves. For customers who wear bifocals, hard buttons also enable input by feel, instead of having to tilt their head back to read numerals.

Ford has a special sort of love for the keypad it includes on most cars' B-pillars, and owners love it, too. It may soon pick up some additional skills, if one patent is an indicator.

One of Ford's most recently published patents imagines a B-pillar keypad on an electric vehicle. Not only is the keypad capable of locking and unlocking the vehicle -- same as all other keypads -- it serves the additional purpose of telling the owner how much charge remains in the car's battery.

Yay! More flashy things to command my attention!


It could work in different ways, too. There could be a battery indicator below a traditional keypad arrangement, or the whole B-pillar's worth of keypad could become one giant battery indicator, perhaps while a vehicle is charging. Alternatively, it could disappear, because who wants a bunch of drunk teenagers attempting to brute force your car's code at night?

While the keypad might seem like some silly relic of the 1990s, before keyless entry became the wildly popular vehicle option it is today, it still has a use (and a serious fanbase). It's not always convenient to carry a key -- if you're out for a run, or taking a hike up a local mountain, for instance -- so being able to lock your key in the car is a smarter idea than, say, just hiding it on top of the tire and hoping for the best.

Despite this feature being used on the regular, and despite how long it's been around, it's never seemed to be a security issue for Ford owners. After all, a smash-and-grab is going to happen no matter what, and it would be mighty stupid to specifically target Ford Motor Company vehicles on the off chance that a key is already inside the car.