Mobile payment systems get enormous traction. Soon, our smart devices will act as an intermediate between our money and the outside world.
When it comes to protecting our mobile and wearable devices, there are two categories of "bad guys" we should worry about: experienced hackers and the regular people around us. In discussing mobile security, we mainly focus on protecting our devices from hackers with strong encryption algorithms, secure transaction protocols, etc.
Why should we worry about the people around us?
You saw a movie a few years ago with an elite person gaining access to a high-security facility. Her finger or eye was scanned, and voila, she was in. Today you're excited to see that same technology becoming reality. We're in the future. It's sexy, but...
The name for that technology, Biometrics, refers to methods that use unique body characteristics as identification: finger prints, retinal or iris patterns, face, voice, even the way someone walks (gait). It seems fool-proof. We're unique, right? Who else could gain access to my device if I'm the only one with my fingerprint?
How many times a day do you type in a smart phone password to unlock the device or an app? Surely whenever you do this, you are not always in a private setting. In present day, wearable devices like the Google glass create more problems than they solve. While you type in a password in public, such devices equipped with high-resolution cameras can easily acquire your password credentials, even from a distance. Malicious observers are already doing this and with time the risk will only grow greater. Keeping this alarming trend in mind, let's review the existing methods and approaches of how mobile and wearable devices are protected against malicious observers.
It's easy to understand why SPINT is such an amazing technology. Currently, there are two ways to interact with a computing device: either with a position-based approach (when a user interface element is selected by its position on the screen with finger, mouse, joystick, etc.) or with a state-based approach (when a user interface element is selected by its state).
The first approach works well with big and medium sized screens, but it doesn't work with the small screens when a finger is used as a pointing and a selection device.
The second approach, which we call SPINT, works flawlessly with a screen of any size.
Let's say, you are opening a rotary safe that has a dial with Arabic numerals and a mark point. To open the safe, you would need to rotate the dial several times aligning your PIN numbers agains the mark point. But what if a "bad guy" (standing behind your back) could see the entire process? Would he be able to open your safe? The answer is yes, absolutely!
Unfortunately enough, the authentication methods used for unlocking the mobile and wearable devices provide no better protection against the malicious observers, who can easily steal your password from a distance using a wide range of wearable devices equipped with high-resolution cameras. This is already happening, and the risk will only grow greater.
Touchscreen-based interaction with wearable devices faces a major challenge: the screen is too small, and a finger is too big (to perform any precise operation).
There are two approaches to tackle this problem (if we take stylus out of consideration). The first one is to utilize some form of zoomable user interface (ZUI). The second approach is to use some form of state-point interaction (SPINT).
In case of SPINT, the size of screen doesn't matter. Even if a screen is smaller than a penny the technology works perfectly well.
The existing interface technologies that came from the world of desktop and laptop computers are badly suited for many categories of smart devices.
The main problem with mobile devices is their miniature size, which leads to a demise of traditional input technologies based on a physical keyboard, mouse, pointing sticks, etc. Even the size of the screen limits touchscreen capabilities, because the "point and tap" approach doesn't work as well with a finger. What was once good and acceptable for desktop and laptop computers is now either inconvenient or almost useless for the wide range of modern mobile devices.
These days, there are millions of mobile applications on the market, but few can boast a great user experience. What makes an app stand out, and more importantly, who can help get it noticed?
You would think the answer would be a good graphic designer, who can draw eye-catching screenshots and innovative animations. Yet there are so many beautifully crafted applications on the market that haven't caught on, because they don't showcase an application's core functionality well. As Steve Jobs once pointed out, "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works."