For nearly half a century, the graphical user interface involved selecting interface elements according to their position on a screen. When users wanted to execute something, they would either click (with a mouse), tap (with a finger) or strike (with a stylus) the screen's area where the desired interface element (button or menu item) was located.
This selection-by-screen-position approach worked well for devices with larger screens (desktop and laptop computers), as well as those with medium-size screens (tablets and phablets). But that wasn't the case for devices with much smaller screens (smart watches and glasses), as the approach either didn't work well or didn't work at all.
On the bright side, there is now another method that allows us to ...
The human-computer interaction technologies has come a long way since 1963, when Ivan Sutherland developed first graphical computer-aided design program. Since then, all known interaction solutions and underlying devices required selecting interface elements according to their position on a screen (i.e. mouse, joystick, touchscreen, stylus, VR gloves, eye-tracking contraptions, and even keyboards with buttons to control a cursor's movement).
The concept looked so natural that creators of Sci-Fi movies were quick to implement it. The "Minority Report" movie, for example, frequently shows Tom Cruise waving his hands around to grab virtual controls hovering in the air.
At SYMPIUS we developed a conceptually different approach ...
The closer we move toward using our mobile devises as universal keys (to our bank accounts, credit cards, house and car locks, let alone personal information), the more the people around us start to pose a serious threat. The malicious observers could easily steal our credentials by glancing at our screens, plus they could gain physical access to our devices themselves. Relying on biometrics isn't a very viable alternative either, since your biometric data is also readily available to the "bad guys" around you.
We call this threat a HITBAD problem, which stands for "Here Is The Body And Device". This is a relatively new security challenge, and it differs from the rest.
How is HITBAD different from other mobile security risks?
The idea of using a game as a login method is not as strange as it might appear.
If you think about how we use passwords as a login method, it's essentially already a game. The system "knows" a secret (password) and gives you a chance to "guess" it. If you guess right, you win the game and gain access into the system. If you guess wrong, you get a second try. And if you fail several times in a row, the game ends, locking you out of the system.
Conceptually, a biometrics-based login is the same game.
Why can't passwords and biometrics protect against the HITBAD problem?
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.
Let's say, you are opening a rotary safe that has a dial with numerals and a mark point. To open the safe, you would need to rotate the dial several times aligning your PIN numbers against the mark point. But what if a "bad guy" (standing behind your back) could see the entire process? Would he be able to open the 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...
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."
Bill Gates once said, "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." Though this statement at first may seem contradictory, it exposes a battle with our habitual defensiveness. It is difficult for many to take harsh criticism and use it to benefit themselves or a company. There seems to be an encounter with an ego and a fear of failure that needs to be overcome. Bill Gates, a successful business mogul, knows that a company should put all customer's needs on the same playing field, not just those who rave about your product. Who knows? The harsh reviewer can hold the secret to your million-dollar company.