I had to interrupt a conversation with a colleague yesterday to ask why and when an alien spaceship and/or juicer had appeared on his desk, and whether we should consider it cause to evacuate the building.
The device, shown here, gives every impression that it could vaporize you with a laser beam, or change your molecular structure. In reality, it’s a gadget from a company called Secure Software that’s supposed to curtail cheating in exams. It records audio and a 360° view of the room, and requires thumbprint identification.
Before the advent of this technology, students could cheat effortlessly. Now, they’ll need to think for at least 20 or 30 seconds first.
For example, instead of arraying her notes and index cards across her entire exam-taking surface, Alice might have to conceal her cheat sheet under the table, or even write lightly on the table surface itself. The 360° camera can see the entire room, but it won’t be able to pick up that level of detail, surely.
Alice might also record some notes on an iPod Shuffle, leaving one ear-bud dangling from the ear facing away from the camera. With the Shuffle controls inconspicuously hidden underneath the keyboard, who would ever know?
Of course, Alice might just not be smart enough to take the exam on her own, even with illegal references. In the old days, she could ask her friend Trudy (an expert in the subject) to take the online exam for her, perhaps for some compensation.
Now, she’d have to give Trudy a copy of her thumbprint first, which Mythbusters confirmed is relatively easy to do.
Or, Alice could just run the USB cable for the Almighty Overseer device to a laptop Trudy’s using in another room. She’d tap her thumb on the pad, and then pretend to take the exam while Trudy did all the real work.
High-tech cheaters could even configure a Remote Desktop client so that Trudy could control Alice’s actual computer.
According to an Associated Press article on MSNBC, the CEO is fully aware that the device is imperfect. That won’t stop me from maniacally delighting in the futility, though.