Re: Palm Pilots can be used to steal cars.

Thom Brooks (
Wed, 9 Dec 1998 10:51:58 -0500 (EST)

This is nothing new; we were playing with calculators like the HP48GX back in
high school to open people's Jeep Grand Cherokee's. For scientific purposes,
of course. ;)

However, it did require that you posess the IR transmitter for at least a few
minutes, if you were lucky; recording the signal was not very easy to do.

Standing nearby and 'snatching' the code is also out of the question, because
the IR receiver has a very low range (as opposed to the transmitter.)

We never got around to trying to figure out how many permutations there could
be in the signal, because a) we didn't have enough different keyless entry
transmitters, b) we figured that some standards board had probably ensured
that there'd be a sufficient number of permutations to frustrate amateur car
thieves, c) we figured that there'd probably be a lockout when the car
detected too many different codes, or any progression of them,
and d) we had homework to do.

So, I think the point is kind of moot; if you're a car thief, and you manage
to get your hands on the unlocking mechanism, then you don't need a Pilot.
However, from the perspective of the owner of one of these kinds of cars, it
does sound like a pretty cool little program to have.

Thom Brooks
University of Michigan

> > According to the New Scientist, a European computer journalist
> > recently discovered that the infrared port of a PalmPilot could be
> > used to break into cars with infrared remote-controlled locking
> > systems. Using software that was written to enable Palm owners to
> > remotely control their TV and VCR with the PalmPilot, the hand-held
> > computer can apparently record the infrared "code" of a car's locking
> > system. The PalmPilot can then unlock the car and disable the alarm by
> > playing that code back.