Home: Security: Lock
Rubiks Lock   (+6)  [vote for, against]
If only its powers could be used for Good, not Evil..

Rather than having a fake can of beans, or a hollowed out book to store valuables in, why not a Rubiks Cube device that will separate and open when a certain combination is attained. Completing, for example, one 3x3 grid of white may open it, or the whole puzzle must be completed (*noted- Any combo is as secure as the next), or the combo can be any 'scrambled' state. The combination to unlock it would be set with the device open, allowing an almost infinite amount of possibilities. Thats if you consider 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possibilities infinite enough for your security purposes.

As long as one remembered the colour combination to open it, the problem of finding it near impossible to open again could be solved by ordering a Rubik solutions book.

A larger, metallic blastproof version could be made for storing more/bigger objects for more safety, and also business use.

No burglar in his right mind is going to want to steal one of these infernal objects. Then again, if he isn't in his right mind, he is one of those people who could probably solve it too.
-- Johnny Mash, Jan 18 2003

Rubik's Online - Cube Facts http://www.rubiks.c...lvl3=faques&lvl4=10
The combinations seem endless [Johnny Mash, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

(?) shame, I thought the cube in this idea would be much much bigger http://www.cubethemovie.com/
[po, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Combination Alarm Clock http://www.bbc.co.u...echnology-17678605#
[Dub, Apr 11 2012]

So this would be marketed to Idiot savants and mental patients? (I think those being the only people who can/would bother to solve one)
-- notme, Jan 18 2003

Where are you going to store things? If you're using the centre cube of a 3x3 Rubik's cube, your storage space will be less than 1/27th of the total volume. The large metallic version will be pretty bulky.

A solutions guide might not be much help if your "combination" is sensibly random-looking. You might be able to generate a customized one for your pattern, but, of course, carrying it around wouldn't be wise.

Memorizing such an arrangement of 54 colours would be a chore. It might be easier than remembering a number or password that would give comparable security, though.

I assume that a booby trap would be triggered if anyone tried to just rearrange the stickers.
-- Monkfish, Jan 18 2003

You would have to know the correct combination before even trying to solve it, else you'd spend up to 1400 million million years trying to crack it, at one combination per second. Even then, that's without repeating a combination, which may occur fairly often.

[notme] This wouldn't be so much of a puzzle as much as it is based on a puzzle for its combinations, and its difficulty in obtaining the combination, even if a burglar DID know the combo. Knowing how to solve it would be reverse of how you set(locked) it.

[Monkfish] The internal storage area wouldn't necessarily be limited to a centre cube. The outer blocks would be hollow, or tiled to look like solid blocks. Booby trapping the stickers would take up more room than the limited storage space alone.
-- Johnny Mash, Jan 18 2003

(Yeah, I realized I'd misread the idea and edited my annotation while you were writing your response. Sorry; it's a bad habit.)
-- Monkfish, Jan 18 2003

Problem: safecrackers can simply memorize the master solution; if I remember right, there are only really 2 or 3 variants to it, although it's relatively long. One of our halfbakers used to be able to solve it in under a minute, given any random arrangement. Interesting application though.
-- RayfordSteele, Jan 18 2003

This is my first idea posted, and I may not have done a great job of the explanation.

[RayfordSteele]The cube unlocking combination is fully customisable, therefore there is no one set solution. There may only be 2 or 3 variations of any solution, be it the full colour completion or to any 'semi-complete/random-like' combination, but the difficulty lies in knowing which of those 43x10^19 solutions you are after. Knowing the combination is the job of the one securing it. Knowing the solution from any scrambled state, while being extremely handy, isn't necessary.

[Monkfish] Edit duly noted :). I hadn't thought much of the '56-bit' code being of far stronger depth than other types. Well spotted.

-There is an issue of super-secure code vs. plasma torch. Just as Scissor beats Paper, Plasma beats Cube. Having such a tough nut to crack means zilch when you have a sledgehammer to shatter it into smithereens.
-- Johnny Mash, Jan 19 2003

Ahh... I get it now. So 'solved' isn't necessarily the combo. That'll do it. I think I like it better than my clock.
-- RayfordSteele, Jan 19 2003

Yes, having bits move and come apart is sort of at odds with the goal of sledgehammer-resistance. Presumably it's some kind of exotic super-strong material faced with cheap plastic and stickers.

The real strength is probably camouflage anyway, though. Any portable safe can be opened if the thief's determined and well-equipped, and there are lots of less difficult and laborious ways of using colour/pictures/sounds/etc. to open safes. But no cold-war spycatcher would have suspected that a Rubik's cube actually contained rocket blueprints, damaging footage of Brezhnev attempting to moonwalk, or even, perhaps, a pinch of marijuana.
-- Monkfish, Jan 19 2003

I'm not sure I quite understand this one, or perhaps the name is just not quite accurate... Granted, for each of Rubik's puzzles, the number of different permutations in which you can arrange the colours, tiles, or other infernal bits may number in the quadrillions, but there is always a method to the madness that, once realised, makes it easy (or easier) to solve them.

Rubik's puzzles aren't like any sort of one-way encrypted hash. The problem with this concept as a method of securing something is not the number of combinations, but rather that they are always reversible, or at least possible to return to a much simpler state, without having to follow your steps in reverse. As others have alluded to, a solution book or algorithm guide wouldn't be far off.

It just seems like another form of "security through obscurity", which is a flawed security model from the get-go. Regardless, I could see this sold, though, to teens and pre-teens as a novelty sort of lock, however.
-- cswiii, Jan 19 2003

I disagree. I don't see any shortcuts from a randomized cube to a particular, unknown combination. You seem to be assuming that the thief would know the combination. (Maybe you misread the idea in the same way RayfordSteele and I first did? I think the idea's second sentence might be causing the confusion.)

We're not talking about models of computer security. We're talking about hiding things. Having a portable strongbox that also looks like an ordinary object is a bonus there.
-- Monkfish, Jan 19 2003

[Monkfish] - perhaps... I think it's the "Rubiks" part that seems out of place -- because that's the whole thing behind Erno's puzzles -- they are seemingly random, but there is always a way to get the thing back to square one (no pun intended) without having to retrace your steps.

If the lock "security" is just a series of random combinations, I have no problem with that -- but it'd not be like any of Rubik's puzzles, at least not in a mathematical sense.

Maybe I'm just being picky. :)
-- cswiii, Jan 19 2003

No, it's an ordinary-looking Rubik's cube. The point is that the thief doesn't know what "square one" is -- it's not a "solved" cube, it's some random-looking configuration. Getting to it from a random position would be hopeless. Knowing the key pattern would be like knowing the combination to a conventional safe (albeit one with an extraordinarily frustrating dial).
-- Monkfish, Jan 19 2003

-- Freefall, Jan 22 2003

It can be opened from any state with the aid of a Rubik Cube solution book, which could be packaged with the cube for such events as these, or for the times you simply cannot remember how you have scrambled it.
-- Johnny Mash, Jan 22 2003

But the only way to solve the bastard thing is to pull it apart and put it back together while no-one's looking. Well that's how I remember it from school. Sort of defeats the purpose really.

And BTW I really did roll 18s for all my D&D stats in form two! Honest!
-- oscil8, Jan 24 2003

I very much like this idea except that, as pointed out earlier, something the size of a Rubic’s cube is not really much use.

How about a Rubic’s house key. My house key is one of those new fangled "un-cutable by the bloke in the local shoe repairers" jobs. It’s simply vaguely key shaped with pits of varying size and depth drilled in it. Using a similar system, each of the tiles on the cube would have a pit or lump on it of varying depths and heights (and possibly off-centredness) and would be colour coded as discussed before. When you "solved" the cube, you would then put it into a square hole in the door lock (knowing which way round to insert it would also be crucial) which would allow the door to be opened.

Might be a bugger when you came home pissed late at night.
-- Gordon Comstock, Jan 24 2003

So you always set the combination as a sequence of moves from the "new" state. No matter what, you can always solve the puzzle back to this known state (with the help of the manual) and then replay the combination of moves to unlock it.

All the same, the point of a lock is to make access convenient for those who are authorized, and inconvenient for those who are not. A puzzle cube seems likely to do just the reverse. An experienced cracker knows the shortcuts and master combinations, and so has relatively easy access. Meanwhile the owner gets confused easily and can't get in.
-- BigBrother, Jan 24 2003

I have solved the Rubik's cube twice in my lifetime; once in private and once to prove it. I'm proud that I did, not being an idiot savant or a mental patient (although this has yet to be proven.)
-- Evil_Baron_Moustachio, Jan 24 2003

[UnaBubba] I've also thought of the problem of orientation. Perhaps one of the centre blocks could be labelled 'o Top, ^ Forward' to help, slightly.

[BigBrother] The combo is set with the device unlocked and open. Split pins, locking tabs, grub screws, whatever it would take. There is no 'master' combination as such, there is only one combination, set by the owner, as one out of 43x10^19 possibilities. Inconvenience of opening it is an issue, but that wouldnt be exacerbated as much if you didnt try [dag]'s idea of using it for frequently accessed objects, like your housekey...
-- Johnny Mash, Jan 24 2003

Since the ideal size for the cube is too small to hold much inside it, you could have a cube with a radio (or bluetooth, etc.) inside that opened a remote lock when it was dialed to a particular setting.
-- cloudface, Nov 25 2003

[Gordon Comstock] For some reason i think that would be more of a hassle than a security feature ...
-- Mrlemonjelly, Nov 22 2005

First of all, computerize it. Make each section a set of LEDs behind touch screens. It's solid, but changable. Also fixes the sticker problem. Increases physical security.

Second, don't store things directly in the cube. Put it in a reader or something on a larger safe, or store the key in the cube.

So, I think it'd be pretty hard to remember a semi-random combo, or to return to it. So I need to ask, be clear. Can the solutions manual allow a person to easily reach any arbitrary state?

This would allow the owner to return from apparently slightly changed states, (two squares interchanged, I find it very difficult to fix this one off the cuff) but reduces the lock to simply a very complex combination lock to thieves with such a manual.

Bun for making me think.
-- Darkelfan, Nov 23 2005

How exactly does the lock recognize the rubiks cube? Perhaps the different "color" blocks could be of slightly different height? Or maybe they're marked in braille...

You might need to install a lock in the rubiks cube, to keep it from getting jiggled up.
-- ye_river_xiv, Jun 28 2006

Been a while. [Darkelfan], I guess it would, just as a Cube being 'complete' is just another arbitrary state. You would need to know how to identify sides and corners. Maybe colours could be replaced with numbers or other symbols for far simpler identification.

I'm liking the bluetooth thing. Changing a flat battery would be impossible, on the other hand. Unless, of course, it had a +3V socket somewhere.
-- Johnny Mash, Jan 03 2008

Nice idea, and welcome back [Johnny Mash]. It seems like all the loons are returning to roost.
-- phoenix, Jan 03 2008

random, halfbakery