Discuss Home · Bootstrapped Podcast · Scribbleton Personal Wiki · HelpSpot Customer Service Software

I made this: automatic lock/unlock for PCs with your phone


#1

My name is Rui Rebelo.

My app/business is Umwelt, an app that you run on your Android Phone and Windows PC. When your phone is close to the PC it unlocks it. When the phone is far it locks it. Also, it warns your phone if someone closes the laptop lid when trying to steal it.

My website has a video that shows it in action (sorry, I am just a programmer, not Christopher Nolan).

The whole purpose is to help people have better/stronger passwords without the burden of typing them every time.

Unlike other solutions (e.g.: Windows Hello, Gatekeeper) it doesn’t require you to be online, a Microsoft account or special hardware that you might not have.

Please, criticize my website and evaluate my idea.

PS.: I have a couple of ideas on the background:

  • use WiFi direct instead of Bluetooth (some desktop machines don’t have bluetooth)
  • use the phone fingerprint reader for authentication
  • integration with Windows Active Desktop
  • a password/PGP/SSH manager to automate other programs and websites logins.

What do you think of them?


#2

Great idea, however it is already implemented in Windows 10 - https://www.cnet.com/how-to/windows-10-dynamic-lock-bluetooth-range/

How does your solution differ from the one already in Windows 10?


#3

How does your solution differ from the one already in Windows 10?

Windows10’s Dynamic Lock only provides locking.

My solution provides automatic unlock, warning against theft and also prevents the screen saver while the user is in front of the computer.

Besides, my solution allows the user to adjust the lock/unlock distance.


#4

Neat trick! However, I’m doubtful it solves a big enough problem to pay for it.

Is it such big a pain to enter a password so that I’d pay for not doing it? No. Is it a big pain to press Windows-L to lock the laptop so I’d pay for not doing it? No.

So in its current state it is a hobby side project, but not a potential business.

This is a totally different pain, and people who routinely -show off- work in coffee shops may appreciate it. Not sure how much tho. If you step out into the washroom, the theft notification helps you little if your schlong is still in your hand - you’re not going to run after the thief until you fix it all into a presentable form.

But I can see how people can be persuaded to pay for this.

I would probably try and make a plugin for LastPass/KeePass/whatnot, which only allows to use the stored passwords if the phone is connected to the laptop. Kinda like two-step authentication.

If you can get a nod from those huge apps, you might sell a number of a plugin copies.


#5

Well, thanks…

The unlock solution is aimed at a niche market: non-technical staff in medical offices. I wanted to avoid the “password is in the post-it on the keyboard” drama, so common on those places.

The plugin idea looks interesting.


#6

Well, then you should market it very differently. It is now a compliance solution.

Companies have security policies that require users to lock their machines when they leave the work desk. Leave it unlocked and you get a warning; leave it unlocked twice and your bonus is gone.

Note that selling to companies is much harder too.

However, If I were you, I’d try to sell it to individuals working for companies. It is effing scary to leave your desktop unlocked when working for a company - as I said, the punishment is severe.

But there are a couple of contra arguments:

First, as it was said, Microsoft has already provided a tool for automatic locking. Unlocking, on the other hand, has a little value.

Second, in a security-conscious environments a user probably can’t install your application to the desktop or laptop.

So… you have a solution. Now you need to find a big enough problem.


#7

I am looking for something like this for Android to unlock my Mac. Anyone? :stuck_out_tongue:


#8

Well, I also made a Mac version, long ago. I made it for Pebble smartwatches but it should work with any Bluetooth LE device because doesn’t require any program on the device.

It’s been a long time I don’t test it, since I don’t have a Mac anymore. Take a look at it and let me know how it behaves.


#9

Hey thanks for it! I guess you need to make it easier / simpler for non-technical person to actually get started with it.


#10

Yes, I need, I really do. But it is hard for a nerd to think like normal people.

But I’ll get there, someday.