Lost your vehicle OEM FOB? This company can help.  Product/Technology review of Car Keys Express.

If you have ever lost your OEM FOB you know what a hassle it typically is to get a replacement from the dealer and to get it programmed properly, let alone the steep cost you incur.

While there have been non-OEM FOBs available for years, most don’t end up working or require you to still go to the dealer to get it properly programmed, again at a significant cost.

Enter Car Keys Express.[1] Their byline elegantly sums it up: Replacing car keys is simple and affordable again.™  Founded in 2006 by CEO Mark Lanwehr, no not in his garage 😊 but on the dining room table of his one room apartment.  By 2006 it was the first online retailer of automotive keys and keyless entry remotes.  Two years later Mark started offering his services to dealerships and fleet owners and now serves over 3,000 cities in the US and Canada.  Along the way they added self-serve kiosks and remote optical scanners for dealerships.  They are now the largest key/key FOB replacement company around.

In their booth at AAPEX 2021 they had samples of their products including their ROKS    or retail optical key scanner, their Keys Now, their Simple Key, the Universal EZ Installer™ and the EZ Installer™.  The ROKS is stand alone unit that you insert your existing key for scanning.  Then they send you the key completely cut.  Their FOB to use with the key can then be paired up with your car using their Universal EZ Installer and a free phone app.  The process saves you about 70% of the cost as compared to going to the OEM dealer.

Simple Key (a kit premade for each specific OEM) comes with the EZ Installer.  Costs vary depending on the OEM and vehicle, but ranges from US$99 to $149 versus if you went through the dealer where you would pay in the range of US$300 to $500 or more.

The difference between the Universal EZ Installer™ and the EZ Installer™ is that EZ Installers are designed to only work with one OEM, such as Ford, GM, Mazda, etc., while the Universal will work with about 95% of OEMs (and since this is a brand-new product, they are working refine its software to work across all OEMs).  Once purchased the Universal EZ Installer or the EZ Installer and connected to the owner’s vehicle via the OBD2 port, the imbedded software becomes linked to the VIN.  This means the owner can make multiple duplicates but only for that specific VIN.  It can not be used after that on another vehicle.

Options for the end user currently include purchasing a kit from them online, locating and driving to one of their Car Keys Express locations in your city, having their mobile service scheduled to come to you, and a priority option of having them come within 24 hours.  The respective pricing ranges from about US$99 if you drive to them  $169 for a scheduled come to you and $315 for 24 hours service.  All well below the hassle and cost of getting it done through your OEM Service Dealership.

In my discussion with Kirk Stewart, Retail Marketing Director of Car Keys Express, he told me that it takes about 18 months on average for them to reverse engineer an OEM FOB, and develop their own proprietary software and chip design, extensively test it out before selling them.  They design their units to exceed the OEM in terms of quality, latest electronics, and durability.  The finished product is waterproof to 30 feet (OEMs are not) and have better battery life as well as range of operation.

Here is a link to one of their videos explaining how their FOBs exceed OEM quality https://player.vimeo.com/video/492057627

They currently have their circuit boards made in China to their proprietary design, but are looking to bring that phase of the process to the United States. Car Keys Express design, engineer, load their own software on the boards, and package all of the units in the United States (Louisville, Ky).  They guarantee their products for 3 years (parts and labor) versus the OEMs’ ninety days to one year.

[1] https://carkeysexpress.com/

Rolling art versus fixed art.

One of the shoots I enjoy doing is finding things that are ‘right before our eyes’ but we don’t always take the time to notice.  Wall art, murals, sculptures and street art seem to fall into that category.

I set out looking for wall art and murals in what is considered Old Las Vegas.  Included in the following unique creative images, is the iconic American Sports Car, the Stingray for a juxtaposition- rolling art vs fixed art.

Hope you enjoy.

True only in the ‘winter’ here, during the summer, the process is much faster.
Summarizes both the mural and the car.
Do you think they want a Stingray?

double entendre 
Fast and fierce.

CES 2017 Autonomous Vehicles: Part 1


Autonomous Vehicles: Part 1

Probably the best way to start is to use CES’ clever one word campaign that defines CES 2017: Whoa!

Having spent 5+ days trying to take it all in, and by all I mean over 3,800 exhibiting companies, across several Las Vegas resort locations and the LV Convention Center, and is the largest event of its kind, I have to agree Whoa! best describes it.

CES Overview

If you are not familiar with CES, it used to be known as the Consumer Electronics Show, and now is called CES: the global consumer electronics and consumer technology trade show.  While the new official name isn’t as ‘catchy’ as the original one, it is more accurate.  Exhibitors and buyers from 150 plus countries attend, network, and place orders for this year’s hottest tech.

Additionally, it serves as a platform for the top experts in related fields and industries to come to share ideas and learn from one another.  While it is not open to the public, it has a massive attendance- over 175,000 this year, along with a large media presence to get the word out.

CES 2017 covered a broad range of technology and its impact on:

  • Aging and accessibility
  • Cyber security
  • Drones (from micro to those capable of carrying an individual)
  • Enhanced audio and video
  • Gaming, VR and AR (virtual and augmented reality)
  • Health, fitness and wearables
  • The Connected world
  • Sustainable and Eco-friendly tech
  • Vehicle technology
  • Startups
  • Family and lifestyle
  • Content and entertainment
  • Robotics

The focus of this blog is one slice of CES 2017 which, in my opinion, will ultimately impact virtually everyone- that of Autonomous Vehicles.   From my perspective, it truly reflects the synthesis and status of the technology found across most of the areas in the bullet list above.

Introduction: Just what is an autonomous vehicle?

Is it a car that can drive down the road by itself like a Tesla, or one that can park itself like a Toyota, or brake itself to avoid collision like a Cadillac, or is it reserved for something more like depicted in the 1960s series the Jetsons?

Courtesy of Newsday jetsons-flying-car

At CES 2017 there were numerous autonomous vehicles in all shapes and sizes.

And there were even semi-autonomous trucks demonstrating platooning technology, where they are able to travel in a caravan fashion saving fuel and driver effort.


SAE has developed the most broadly accepted definition of the levels of driving automation.  As seen on the accompanying chart, they have described five levels ranging from ‘no automation’ through ‘full automation.’  Most important is the transition role (responsibilities) between the human and the ‘system.’  The biggest shift is between levels 2 and 3, where the responsibility for monitoring the driving environment shifts from the person to the system.  The role of the human becomes one of back-up to the automated driving system.  Of course, this shift in responsibility is one of the thorniest and most complex components of the process.


Autonomous vehicles– the major potential ‘pros’:

Among the top reasons to move towards automation level 3, 4 or ultimately 5, include anticipated significant reductions in vehicular deaths; reduction in congestion; reduction in pollution; facilitated transport of individuals unable to or who should not be driving (too old, infirm, disabled, too young, under medically induced or other impairment).

For example, there are approximately 32,000 automotive related deaths per year.  NHTSA has estimated that between 90 and 94% of those are due to human error.  Further, the economic cost is c. $242 billion and societal harm c $836 billion.  Automated drive systems, whether as low as SAE level 2 on upwards to 5, is expected to significantly reduce deaths due to human error.  Most agree it is reasonable to expect automation to quickly reduce the automotive related deaths easily by half or more.

Damien Riehl (a technology lawyer with a background in legal software design) summed up the critical advantages of the ‘hand-off’ from human to machine: “Computers do not share human drivers’ foibles: They cannot be inebriated, they don’t text, and they don’t fall asleep. Automated-driving systems can also have super-human qualities: 360–degree vision; 100 percent alert time; constant communication with the road, traffic lights, and other cars; “sight” through fog and darkness; and universal, system-wide routing for traffic-flow optimization. Computers react faster: Humans’ reaction time is approximately 1.5 seconds, while computers’ reaction times are measured in milliseconds (and, per Moore’s Law, improving exponentially). [ from the Bench & Bar of Minnesota, the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association; Riehl Oct. 4, 2016]

Another significant advantage of moving towards autonomous vehicles comes from the necessary connectivity in each vehicle.  Autonomous vehicles will need to be able to ‘communicate’ with other vehicles on the same road, the environmental variables such as traffic lights, weather, flow, etc.  This critical inter-connectivity will enable aggregated, and most cases, instantaneous learning by the vehicle’s system.  Much like we see today in applications such as WAZE and LIVE, where we as drivers hear of traffic issues, police actions, etc. in near real time, and they can choose to act upon such information, that is learn from it, or ignore it. But of course, the difference is that autonomous vehicles will be programmed with algorithms to instantaneously incorporate the new information and take appropriate corrective actions.  For example, if an autonomous vehicle is driving along a road where there is a traffic accident or construction, it would send the information to other autonomous vehicles further back on the same route, resulting in a seamless rerouting.  This built in collective and incremental learning will mean that the more the autonomous vehicles drive, the more of them on the road with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-environs instant and continuous connections, the more efficient and expeditious each will become.

Potential applications abound (many you probably have heard about) including driverless pick up via Uber/Lyft; calling your own car to pick you up and drop you off; driverless public transportation like Olli; platooning of freight hauling trucks, etc.  Autonomous vehicles also open up new modes of transportation, such as the hyperloop.  For example, Hyperloop One is being built north of Las Vegas, Nevada as a proof of concept.  Here in their own words is an explanation: “The Hyperloop is a new way to move people or things anywhere in the world quickly, safely, efficiently, on-demand and with minimal impact to the environment. The system accelerates a passenger or cargo vehicle through a steel tube in a near-vacuum using that linear electric motor. The autonomous vehicles glide comfortably at faster-than-airline speeds over long distances due to the extremely low aerodynamic drag and non-contact levitation. There’s no direct emissions, noise, delay, weather concerns nor pilot error. “[By Bruce Upbin, VP Strategic Communications, Hyperloop One].  Ultimately the vision for hyperloop is to have direct connections (non-stop) between cities, with hubs where either you could drive your car or take an autonomous car to the hub.  At the hub you would drive onto an autonomous platform, be in a small grouping of platforms going to the same location, and be sent out within minutes of your driving onto the platform to your destination, non-stop, at speeds of up to 700+ miles per hour.  At your destination, you would leave the hub and drive or be driven to your objective.

Autonomous vehicles logically could also result in lack of need for personal car (or multiple car) ownership, personal automobile insurance, significant reduction in the need for parking garages in cities, decreased pollution, and increased personal time.

But is it all rosy?

In my Part 2, I will explore Autonomous vehicles- the major potential ‘cons’ https://insight.daumphotography.com/2017/01/25/autonomous-vehicles-part-2/

For a sample of my photographs from CES 2017 please see http://www.daumphotography.com/Events/2017-CES/