An internet exam system which makes it virtually impossible to cheat has been developed by a Sussex company.

Falmer-based eVigilation has created a product which allows students to take exams from the comfort of their homes - and cuts out cheating.

The product called eVigilator has been backed by a large European software house and is the first of its kind in the world.

One of its cleverest features is a profile page which reads iris-scans or fingerprints to make sure the right person is sitting the exam.

The software can also be rigged up to cameras and microphones to allow exam invigilators to monitor students closely throughout the test.

A video of the candidate taking the exam can be downloaded from the server as added security and prove that there was no cheating.

Once an exam has been completed, an instant certificate can be produced including an embedded photo of the candidate.

This is useful for sectors where contractors require a work permit quickly, such as in the gas, oil and construction industries.

Each candidate is given a secure site on the internet where personal details are stored.

This allows them to prove who they are and what qualifications they have achieved to potential employers.

Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), wants youngsters to take exams "when they are ready for them and at any time of year".

David Wigglesworth, who founded eVigilation in 2002, is now looking for organisations who will help him pilot the software which will allow just that.

Mr Wigglesworth, 57, said: "There are two big companies in the US in the online exam business and the education sector, because it is so massive, will probably go to them.

"But the identification and security features of eVigilator are unique, and will be a requirement for the QCA so we see the product being an essential bolt-on."

He said he envisaged the product selling well in the financial services and insurance sector where staff are required to take industry examinations.

The system can also be used to deliver education to remote communities and to people with mobility difficulties who could sit the exam with a home computer.

The company, based at the Sussex Innovation Centre, is looking for organisations who would be interested in piloting the software. Call Mr Wigglesworth on 01273 704415.

Wednesday May 26, 2004