Ford has developed an SUV liftgate that opens hands-free. Cool.

Ford oval badge on red car hood

Lost in all the brouhaha over the tsunami of new high-tech connectivity gadgets, gizmos and gewgaws hitting the market is a clever new feature brought to us by Ford.

Begging the question, "Why didn't someone think of this sooner?" it's an obvious leap forward in convenience.

Ford calls it the hands-free power liftgate.

The public will get its first glimpse of the new technology when Ford reveals its next-generation 2013 Escape at the Los Angeles Auto Show this month.

So what's the big deal?

We've all approached a minivan or sport-utility vehicle, our arms loaded with packages or bags of groceries, needing to dump them into the rear cargo area.

But even if you have a power liftgate, you've still got to pull the key fob out of your pocket or purse and push the right button to get the rear door open.

Using gesture-based technology similar to that found on some video gaming systems like Wii, Escape's hands-free system opens and closes its liftgate with a kicking motion under the rear bumper.

No more juggling arms full of packages or setting things down to operate the cargo door.

Ford developed its hands-free system on the shoulders of its Intelligent Access push-button/remote-start technology. This is the optional technology available on some Fords that lets the driver start the vehicle with a push of a button from as far away as 300 feet.

To prevent the hatch from accidentally operating when the family's cat runs under the vehicle, two sensors in the rear bumper must detect a person's shin as well as the kicking motion.

I suspect Escape is just the first of many Fords that will offer hands-free access to the cargo hold.

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