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  1. We have witnessed explosive growth in computing devices at all scales, in particular with small wireless devices that can permeate most of our physical world. The IoT industry is helping to fuel this insatiable desire for more and more data. We have to balance this growth with an understanding of its environmental impact. Indeed, the ENSsys community must take leadership in putting sustainability up front as a primary design principle for the future of IoT and related areas, expanding the research mandate beyond the intricacies of the computing systems in isolation to encompass and integrate the materials, new applications, and circular lifecycle of electronics in the IoT. Our call to action is seeded with a circularity-focused computing agenda that demands a cross-stack research program for energy-harvesting computational things.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 6, 2023
  2. Laptop webcams can be covertly activated by malware and law enforcement agencies. Consequently, 59% percent of Americans manually cover their webcams to avoid being surveilled. However, manual covers are prone to human error---through a survey with 200 users, we found that 61.5% occasionally forget to re-attach their cover after using their webcam. To address this problem, we developed Smart Webcam Cover (SWC): a thin film that covers the webcam (PDLC-overlay) by default until a user manually uncovers the webcam, and automatically covers the webcam when not in use. Through a two-phased design iteration process, we evaluated SWC with 20 webcam cover users through a remote study with a video prototype of SWC, compared to manual operation, and discussed factors that influence users' trust in the effectiveness of SWC and their perceptions of its utility.
  3. Bluetooth requires device pairing to ensure security in data transmission, encumbering a number of ad-hoc, transactional interactions that require both ease-of-use and "good enough" security: e.g., sharing contact information or secure links to people nearby. We introduce Bit Whisperer, an ad-hoc short-range wireless communication system that enables "walk up and share'" data transmissions with "good enough" security. Bit Whisperer transmits data to proximate devices co-located on a solid surface through high frequency, inaudible acoustic signals. The physical surface has two benefits: it limits communication range since sound travels more robustly on a flat solid surface than air; and, it makes the domain of communication visible, helping users identify exactly with whom they are sharing data without prior pairing. Through a series of technical evaluations, we demonstrate that Bit Whisperer is robust for common use-cases and secure against likely threats. We also implement three example applications to demonstrate the utility of Whisperer: 1-to-1 local contact sharing, 1-to-N private link sharing to open a secure group chat, and 1-to-N local device authentication.
  4. Improving end-users’ awareness of cybersecurity warnings (e.g., phishing and malware alerts) remains a longstanding problem in usable security. Prior work suggests two key weaknesses with existing warnings: they are primarily communicated via saturated communication channels (e.g., visual, auditory, and vibrotactile); and, they are communicated rationally, not viscerally. We hypothesized that wrist-based affective haptics should address both of these weaknesses in a form-factor that is practically deployable: i.e., as a replaceable wristband compatible with modern smartwatches like the Apple Watch. To that end, we designed and implemented Spidey Sense, a wristband that produces customizable squeezing sensations to alert users to urgent cybersecurity warnings. To evaluate Spidey Sense, we applied a three-phased ‘Gen-Rank-Verify’ study methodology with 48 participants. We found evidence that, relative to vibrotactile alerts, Spidey Sense was considered more appropriate for the task of alerting people to cybersecurity warnings.