Clever Features: Ford Escape Foot-Activated Liftgate

Normally when I think about clever features, I’m thinking about software, as in Gmail’s brilliant attachment prompt, and WordPress’s smart logo redirect.  I caught a commercial on TV today, though, for the Ford Escape that demonstrated the new foot-activated liftgate.  Check out this article and video on  It struck a chord because I think it’s a great example of one of the concepts I wrote about from The Little Black Book of Innovation – looking for innovation opportunities in the space where people compensate.  When you watch the simple wave of a foot underneath the back bumper of the vehicle, it seems completely obvious that someone should have come up with this idea eons ago.  How often do you struggle with your hands full when you approach the trunk or hatchback of your vehicle?  Especially when what I’m carrying is heavy, the last thing I want to do is put it down and have to pick it up again after I open up the trunk.  Kudos to Ford for delivering some real innovation!


  1. You still gotta put down the package when you get home, to close the hatch.
    I think the majority of people will never use this feature.
    Just how heavy a load are we talking about that you can’t set it down?

    1. Hi Dave. Thanks for the comment. I agree with you that it’s certainly not a life changer, and not all features like this will be that interesting to all people. I haven’t seen the feature in person, and I definitely would not buy a vehicle based on one feature like this, so I get your point. It just struck me as one of those things that was clever, and it illustrated one of the points I’d pulled from a book on innovation recently – which is to look at the places people compensate for something with their behavior, and you might find some inspiration. Thanks again for the comment!


  2. But when approaching the vehicle with arms full of groceries, how do you unlock it? If you have to put the groceries down to use key or remote, doesn’t it defeat the purpose?

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