Original Design

The original access card is a thin white card, approximately the size of a standard business card or credit card. An in-depth analysis of the design of this card by Jason Wall can be found here.

Initial Ideas

Here is the list of my intial ideas for an alternative access device, or way to unlock a locked room.
  • Voice activated
  • Retina scan
  • Fingerprint scan
  • DNA scan
  • Sensitive doorhandle
  • Heat sensitive
  • Pulse detecting
  • Thought-reading
  • Rhythym sensitive (tap the passcode)
  • Hard key
  • Microchip
  • Finger hole
  • Breath sample
  • Password
  • Ring
  • Necklace
  • Wristband
  • Hair sample
  • Palm Reading
  • Full-body scan
  • Bellybutton ring
  • Belt buckle
  • Watch
  • Earrings
  • Wallet
  • Keychain charm
  • Bracelet charm
  • Pin
  • Shoes
  • Keypad
  • Sign Language

Select Ideas

I chose these ideas to explore further through diagrams, sketching, video and photography.
  1. Sign in
  2. Watch
  3. Handprint
  4. Hand recognition
  5. Fingerprint
  6. Call In
  7. Cell phone
  8. Pin/Button
  9. Keypad
  10. Breath sample & Password
  11. Sign language




Experience Notes
Sign In: Enter the room by
signing your name on the
door with your finger.
I really enjoyed this method.
It was quick and fun, and
provided a new and unique
way to unlock a door--I'd
visit the labs a lot more
frequently if this was how the
doors unlocked!

Watch: Enter the room by
scanning your watch, which
acts as an access card.
This was quick and easy, and
also convenient, as I am almost
always wearing a watch, and it
is always in the same place--no
rooting around in my bag is
required to access the room.

Handprint: Enter the room by
pressing the door, which
recognizes your handprint.
This was quick and easy, but
took more time than the next

Hand Recognition: Unlock
the door when the handle
recognizes your handprint.
I really like the simplicity of this
method. It didn't take any extra
time, and I didn't have to go out
of my way to unlock the door.

Fingerprint: Enter the room
by touching a pad, which
recognizes your fingerprint.
Much the same as the handprint
on the door, I would prefer this
system if it didn't require a pad.

Call In: Unlock a door by
entering a passcode in your
Doing this made me feel quite
a bit like James Bond, but it
would be a huge hassle if my
cell phone was out of batteries,
if I forgot it, or if I was talking on
it at the time.

Cellphone: Use your cellphone
as an access card to enter
a room.
Pretty much the same as using
an original access card.

Button: Unlock a door using a
small pin as an access card.
This was quick and easy, the
best part about it was that I
didn't have to dig around in my
bag for the pin. That said,
signing my name on the door is
a lot more fun, and having the
handle recognize my handprint
is a lot easier.

Coloured Keypad: Open a door
by touching a series of colored
keys in the correct order.
The colours of this pad are very
appropriate within the Department
of Design. Not only are they nice
to look at, but they create a fun,
child-like game, and are easier to
remember than a sequence of
numbers when it's the only colour
sequence in your 'password bank.'

Breath Sample & Password:
Unlock the door by speaking a
password into a speaker that
will analyze your DNA to
confirm your identidy.
Talking to the wall felt very odd,
and was not an experience I
particularly enjoyed.

Sign Language: The password
to open the door is in the form
of a gesture.
Doing this felt very silly, and I can
imagine myself doing it improperly
in an attempt to keep other people
from seeing what I am doing.

Flow Charts & Further Development

I have decided to expand on signing in using your finger, sign language/gestures, breath sample, rhytmic tapping, and doorknob recognition. I have defined five variables in opening a door, and am now looking at different ways that the various options could be selected while opening the door. These variables are the length of time the door is open, how wide the door opens, how fast the door opens, which direction the door opens, and if the door locks after you enter. The following table displays how each method would allow for the selection of various options through select actions.
Length of time the door is open (Long/ Medium/ Short)
How wide the door opens (Wide/ Regular/ Narrow)
How fast the door opens (Fast/ Regular/ Slow)
Which direction the door opens (In/ Out)
Lock door after closing? (Yes/ No)
Sign In
Vertical height of signature (High/ Regular/ Short)
Horizontal width of signature (Wide/ Regular/ Narrow)
Speed of signature execution (Fast/ Medium/ Slow)
Direction of underline under the signature (Right/ Left)
Tap or not at the end of signature (Tap/ Not)
Click for flowchart
Number of fingers displayed (One/ Two/ Three)
Width of pinched fingers (Approx. 1"/ 2"/ 3")
Speed of entire gesture (Fast/ Medium/ Slow)
Flick fingers towards or away from you (Towards/ Away)
"Locking" twist of wrist at the end of the gesture (Gesture/ No gesture)
Click for flowchart
Pitch of spoken password (High/ Medium/ Low)
Width of mouth when speaking (Wide/ Medium/ Narrow)
Verbal speed of password (Fast/ Medium/ Slow)
Order of password words (Forward/ Backward)
'Clicking' of tongue at end of password (Click/ No click)
Click for flowchart
Number of fingers used to tap (2/ 3/ 4)
Distance between fingers when tapping (Touching/ Close/ Wide spread)
Speed of tapping (Fast/ Medium/ Slow)
Tapping with finger pads or finger nails (Pad/ Nails)
Swipe with fingers after tapping (Swipe/ No swipe)
Click for flowchart
Strength of grip on knob (Strong/ Regular/ Weak)
Location of grip on handle (Close to axis/ Centre/ Close to end)
Number of fingers touched to thumb (1/ 2/ 3)
Direction you pull or push the door after it unlocks (In/ Out)
Tap handle with thumb just prior to release (Tap/ No tap)
Click for flowchart

More Ideas

During third class I came up with some more ideas that I'm interested in exploring. These ideas were inspired by my better ideas from the sketching stage, mainly “Sign In” and “Gesture”. I really liked how these ways of opening the door required real interactions, not simply swiping a required object. I found that truly interacting with the door created a far more interesting and rewarding experience, so I expanded on this preference with these ideas.
  • A dance routine that would open the door
  • As a diversion from "sign in"--draw a picture on the door with your finger
  • Whistle a tune
  • Facial expressions/actions
    • Twitch your nose in different ways to open the door in different ways
    • Make different facial expressions (smile, frown, grimace) to open the door in different ways
    • Wink/blink/squint to open the door in different ways

Additional Sketching

Interaction Notes
Dance routine: Execute a specific dance routine to open the door.
Though this felt goofy, it was a lot of fun.

Whistle a tune: Whistle a specific tune to unlock the door.
This could, perhaps, get annoying to those around you, but it was quite a bit of fun.

Facial expressions: Make different facial expressions to open the door in different ways.
Excellent fun! I really loved making funny faces to get the door to open!

Tapping: Tap out a rhythm using different finger combinations to open the door in different ways. Outlined in detail in the Flow Charts & Further Development table.
This was quick, fun and effective.

Idea Critiques

After exploring, sketching and mapping multiple ideas, I have decided to examine and critique Tapping, Sign In and Gesture in terms of the principles of interactivity design and usability goals.

Design Principles

Sign In
None of these are visually obvious, which conveniently helps with maintaining the security of the locked room. A user would have to be taught to use each of these systems in addition to needing a password of some kind.
If the user knew they needed to tap or sign on something to open the door, it would still not be immediately clear where this should be done without a specific area being highlighted. To solve this problem there could either be an obviously specified area for the user to tap on, or the entire area could be sensitive to tapping. It would probably be best to have the specified area, though, because it is far more obvious.
If the user knew that a gesture would open the door, it would be fairly intuitive to do it within close proximity to the door, which would be correct.
With no labels or buttons in this system, there is no mapping in the conventional sense. The mapping of these systems is all in how the assorted variations of the movement correspond to the way the door opens. The variations are simple enough, none requiring changes that are too elaborate to easily comprehend. The variations also correspond relatively directly to the movements of the door. In Tapping, the width of the fingers specifies the width that the door opens, and in Gesture the speed of the gesture indicates the speed that the door opens.
When the movement is executed properly, the door will unlock and open to specifications. If executed incorrectly, the door will not open, and the user must try again.
This method is similar to the "secret knock" system that children often use as a way to ensure security to secret hideouts. This consistency helps this system feel less foreign to the new user, but a new user would still need to be taught the system, as it is not a prevalent system for opening doors in the 'adult' world.
Neither of these systems directly corresponds to any other way of opening a door that is currently in operation, meaning that users would have to be taught to use the system.
If your hands are full, you would not be able to unlock the door in any of these ways. All users would need to be taught the system, which helps ensure security of the locked room.

Usability Principles

Sign In
Assuming the technology functions properly, these are all effective methods of unlocking and opening a door as the user never has to worry about losing or breaking their card, and they never have to dig it out of the bottom of their bag.
Given that users would never have to search for their card and the door opens for them without any required physical force, these are very efficient ways of opening a door.
All of these systems would have to be equipped with sensors that would prevent the door from automatically opening into someone, especially an unsuspecting person on the other side of the door.
All of these systems provide quick, simple ways to manipulate multiple variables in order to open a door to various specifications, which is beneficial to all users.
All of these systems require a low level of instruction, after which they are quite simple to use. The required level of instruction acts as an additional safety feature, preventing unauthorized users from gaining access.
In order to remember the multiple variables for these systems, users would need to use the system several times within a relatively short time period. It is likely that each user would devise a combination that opens the door to their specifications, and use that combination all of the time, possibly branching out once they were very comfortable with that one way.
While completing this project I found myself taken back to the fourth grade, when I attended a program called Open Minds at the Calgary Science Centre. I went to school there for a week, where we spent the entire time immersed in science & being encouraged to innovate and create. Each child in the class devised and constructed an invention, each of us running wild with our imaginations. I loved feeling like that again. I all too often feel as if my imagination is gathering dust, and it was wonderful to pull it out and use it again. It took me a while to get back into gear, but I really enjoyed the process. I hope I continue to get chances to get my imagination back into shape!