Michael Karlesky

A cabinet of wonders. Minus the cabinet. And possibly the wonders.

Open Sesame — Using research to make security awesome and not just less sucky…

 Open Sesame is a current research project of mine. The name comes from medieval arabic literature (a phrase uttered to unlock a secret cave). The basic concept is explained in a TV commercial below. Say what? Look. In my opinion, good research simply does not involve enough fake TV commercials.

The motivations for this project are manifold. Briefly, some of these interrelated motivations include:

  • Research shows that bodily motions can measurably improve our mood.  People do not generally enjoy security mechanisms, and so they circumvent them. Perhaps a gesture-based security system could be an enjoyable one that is not circumvented. 
  • Biometric systems will some day become inexpensive enough as to replace other authentication mechanisms. But biometric systems simply cannot always perfectly recognize users. Might users still adopt biometric systems they truly enjoy using despite their failings? 
  • Researchers in the area of usable security tend to assume that security and usability are in tension with one another. What if we scrap that assumption and shoot not just for usable security but pleasurable security?  Also. Silly gestures.

The technical work to implement this project is ongoing. However, we are beginning to publish our work. So far, we’ve published a Work in Progress entitled Open Sesame: Re-envisioning the Design of a Gesture-Based Access Control System at CHI 2013


All tripods all the time: My development space.

Three depth cameras, two web cams, and three computers.