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Magic Touch
By Larry Edsall

Magic Touch Magic Touch opens doors with exterior door handles
Aesthetically, the door handles sticking out from the side of your car are probably anything but attractive. If you suffer from arthritis or some other ailments, those door handles may not be functionally effective either.

Whether you just want to smooth the appearance of your vehicle or want to ease access to the interior, a new touch-sensitive automotive door handle system is available.

Jay LaFrance of Plano, Texas, studied electrical engineering and computer science in college, but has spent most of his career in sales and marketing of aerospace and defense systems that combine electronics and plastics.

His son, Cole, is the car guy in the family. Cole wants to be a car designer and father and son got to brainstorming about how they could combine their passions. Thus Magic Touch, which replaces the original-equipment door handle with a body-colored panel and some hidden electrical components.

Touch the panel and the door pops open far enough for you grab the door edge and pull the door open.

For an even more "trick" installation, a clear panel is available for mounting on the inside of a window. Instead of touching the area where the door handle used to be, you touch the exterior surface of the window; the clear panel is sensitive enough to sense your touch and to release the latch.

Cole LaFrance took the idea to custom car creator Chip Foose, who featured Magic Touch on one of the project vehicles he built on his Overhaulin' program on cable television.

Magic Touch wires into a vehicle's remote locking system. In 2006, LaFrance Autoworks had applications for Cadillac Escalade, GM full-size pickup trucks and SUVs, including the Hummer H2, as well as for the Nissan 350Z, Mitsubishi Eclipse, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum --there's even a Magic Touch lift gate release for the Magnum.

Other applications are coming, as are Magic Touch controls for interior components, such as audio system.

Suggested retail price on Magic Touch for each door is $399. LaFrance says installation usually takes less than an hour. For information, including on-line shopping, see the www.lafranceautoworks.com website, or call 888-754-9371.

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