Security keys you create by rolling dice

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Aug 26, 2020

Project update 2 of 12

Discord AMA, Become a DiceKey Beta Tester, and Metal DiceKeys

by Stuart Schechter

We’re so grateful for the amazing reception our campaign has received and so excited to see our first update reach > 1 kilobackers.

If you’re wondering when your DiceKey(s) will arrive, read on, including for a chance to be part of our beta program and receive a free test DiceKey as early as September.

Ask Me Anything

Please join our AMA (ask me anything) on September 2nd at 5PM eastern, 2PM pacific, which is 6AM the next morning at DiceKeys HQ (KST). Why KST? Glad you have your first question ready to go.

While I’m answering your questions, 50 members of the audience will be selected to participate in our beta test (shipping limitations may make it necessary to limit participation to those in the continental US). Further information about how to participate in this beta test will be available in the AMA channel to review before the AMA takes place.

Participants in the beta program will receive a free test DiceKey, hopefully in the next few weeks, and in return will follow instructions for testing the user experience and to report back to us. Participants get to keep the test unit, though we can’t guarantee support for it should the test lead to significant hardware changes that render it obsolete.

While we’ll take questions live, we’d like to encourage you to send in your questions ahead of time, to ama@dicekeys.com. If we use your question and you’re within shipping range of the beta program, we’ll also add you to it. (Up to a maximum of 50 slots in the beta program. If multiple people ask the same question, we may pick the wording or presentation we like best, including favoring questions asked by video.)

Crowd Supply AMAs are hosted on their discord server, so be sure to get set up there ahead of time, and read the information about the AMA format.

AMA Invite: https://discord.gg/rKaMuwV

We hope to broadcast video of the AMA live, and if we can we will post the video link to the discord channel.

Shipping Schedule

We’ve had a number of requests for clarification on our expected ship date. The official timeline is January, but we’re hoping sooner.

The Crowd Supply campaign ends on October 1. If we are able to complete beta testing in September and no changes to the hardware are required, we can start production immediately with the goal of having units delivered to Crowd Supply in late November.

If testing does identify an issue that justifies a design change, we’ll have to adjust the schedule. Typically, changing an injection mold has a lead time of about a month.

Progress this week

Despite having eyes glued to the backers counter and spending lots of time on other non-engineering tasks like planning the AMA, we did manage to get a few things done on the engineering side this week.


AMA Preview: Steel DiceKeys?

Steel DiceKeys are a popular request and for good reason: steel is fireproof, long-lasting, and feels so much more impressive than plastic.

We want to offer DiceKeys technology in a steel medium, but plastic has far fewer design constraints than steel, so we can build a more usable product if the responsibility for fire-resistance falls to other hardware. And, indeed, inexpensive fireproof envelopes and safes already allow you to fireproof DiceKeys while maintaining the simplicity an great user experience of the plastic product.

Also, when we tested steel dice, we were surprised to learn that they are, in some ways, more fragile than plastic ones. When steel dice are rolled together, the corners of each die will scratch the faces of the dice it bounces up against. You can see the resulting damage in this image of two steel dice that were rolled a few too many times.

While DiceKeys only need to be rolled once, and one roll is unlikely to damage them this badly, we expect customers will be tempted to play with them before locking them into place—we sure were.

Still, steel dice looked and felt amazing, so we made lots of attempts to fix the problem, including rounder corners and a thicker outer layer. No luck. Deeper engraving might help, but the deeper you go in or out, the resolution decreases and the skew of captured images increases.

Scuffing is less of an issue for flat tiles, which can be selected at random by pulling them from a bag—not unlike one would do in games like scrabble. The tiles are lighter and they don’t bounce against in the same way as dice. The samples we have obtained have impressed us, with sufficient resolution even on 8mm square chips. And since since they’re so thin, they use less material and take up less space.

Since steel has so much appeal, we’ve worked to make sure we can support steel with minimal changes. Our scanning algorithm didn’t need any modifications to read the steel chips, as you can see from the green and red overlay it generated to illustrate what it was able to read. The scuff on K2 occurred when we laid it on a griddle before blow torching it to test for fire resistance. The scuff impedes the error check, and so in this case the app would need to ask the user to confirm that it read the K2 correctly.

Since chips have only two faces, as compared to six faces for dice, a steel chip DiceKey would have there are 3^25 (~2^40) fewer possible outcomes. This would reduce the security strength to about 156 bits, which is still 28 bits more than the block size of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cipher.

The small reduction in security can result in a significantly smaller product size. The biggest caveat of moving from dice to flat chips is that you could not replicate a 6-sided plastic DiceKey with two-sided chips.

For answers to more of your questions about DiceKeys, don’t forget to come to the AMA!

Stuart Schechter

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