A physical manifestation of passwords!

The task at hand was to investigate making physical inputs to digital outputs. In this week long exploration, we started looking into the ways of making encrypted virtual data in a physical format. And started asking ourselves the big question how can passwords for digital applications exist in the physical space.

In the project, the password is represented in the form of four identical cubes that sit on a stand. Through an AR-enabled device, the user can see a virtual puzzle that lives on the surface of the cubes. The user has to solve the puzzle to unlock the phone or app they are trying to access.
However, entering the password grants access only for a short period of time. When this time period is up, four solenoids in the stand push the cubes off of their resting positions, reshuffling the puzzle. This is equivalent to the concept of “password timeout” that many apps have.

For people who cannot help themselves and check their phones first thing in the morning or right before sleeping, for people who want to be mindful of how much time they spend on social media, or for any kind of application that requires an extra layer of security.

Making the invisible visible!

We explored different ways of making encrypted virtual data in a physical format. And froze on interaction with cubes, where the user would have to align them in a particular way to unlock the device.

The Process

The first step in the process was to act out the interaction with some quick bodystorming to ensure that the interaction felt natural (as natural as ARcan feel). Once the group felt assured about the flow of the interaction, the next step was to quickly test separate parts of the project to ensure that they were technically feasible by themselves before introducing more complexity

  1. Fiducial changes when we flip the cube.
  2. Animation on the virtual world to show the pacman running through the trails to unlock the device
  3. The solenoid that would bump the cubes
  4. Using phone as the platform to present the project






It is pretty difficult to gauge mental model of what an AR object might behave like. It is therefore important to rely on previously established paradigms of interaction in the physical or virtual world.

Eye movement

It is important to direct the eye of the user when setting up an AR project as there is an inherent confusion about where to look - at the physical object you are interacting with or at the screen where you see the AR output

Setup limitation

Unity has its own constraints and does not support multi user import and export of files smoothly, therefore compiling components to a single unity file from different machines could become tricky.

Team members

Davi Magalhães
Shailee Advani
Yang Li