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There is an appreciable number of available, high-quality certification programs that focus on digital investigations and forensics. However, there are also many certifications and programs in this area that are far less transparent and widely known.

There’s been a steady demand for digital forensics certifications for the past several years, mainly owing to the following:

  • Computer crime continues to escalate. As more cybercrimes are reported, more investigations and qualified investigators are needed. This is good news for law enforcement and private investigators who specialize in digital forensics.
  • There’s high demand for qualified digital forensics professionals because nearly every police department needs trained candidates with suitable credentials.
  • IT professionals interested in working for the federal government (either as full-time employees or private contractors) must meet certain minimum training standards in information security. Digital forensics qualifies as part of the mix needed to meet them, which further adds to the demand for certified digital forensics professionals.

As a result, there is a continuing rise of companies that offer digital forensics training and certifications. Alas, many of these are “private label” credentials that are not well recognized. Making sense of all options and finding the right certification for you may be trickier than it seems.

To help choose our top five certifications for 2019, we looked at several popular online job boards to determine the number of advertised positions that require these certifications. While the genuine results vary from day to day and by job board, this should give you an idea of the number of digital forensic jobs with specific certification requirements.

Job board search results (in alphabetical order, by certification)*

SimplyHired   Indeed   LinkedIn Jobs   LinkUp  Total
Vendor neutral
CFCE (IACIS) 63 82 117 46 308
CHFI (EC-Council) 106 140 253 68 567
GCFA (SANS GIAC)  422 489 857 294 2,062
GCFE (SANS GIAC)  203 226 433 143 1,005
Vendor specific
ACE (AccessData) 25 29 31 12 97
EnCE (EnCase) 110 154 237 114 615

*We covered two GIAC credentials, presented together in a single GIAC section below.

Digital forensics is a relatively lucrative space for practitioners. The average salary for intermediate digital forensic jobs in the U.S. – $63,959, according to SimpyHired – trails that of network engineers, system administrators and project managers. However, a senior specialist or forensic analyst, whether working in the private industry or government channels, will often earn six figures in major metro areas. We found salaries on the high end running almost $107,000 for forensic analysts and more than $127,000 for digital forensic roles.

ACE: AccessData Certified Examiner

AccessData is the maker of the popular Forensic Toolkit (FTK) solution for digital investigations. The company also offers a variety of related products and services, such as AD Lab, AD eDiscovery, AD Enterprise and AD Triage.

The AccessData Certified Examiner (ACE) is worth pursuing for those who already use or plan to use FTK, which enjoys widespread use in law enforcement and private research and consulting firms. The certification requires one exam, which covers the FTK Imager, Registry Viewer, PRTK (Password Recovery Toolkit) and FTK Examiner Application/Case Management Window tools in detail. AccessData recommends basic to moderate forensic knowledge before attempting the exam. This includes an understanding of digital artifacts, Registry files, encrypting and decrypting files, hashing, attack types, using live and index searching, and other topics. See the latest ACE Study Guide for details.

Recertification is required every two years. Credential holders must pass the current ACE exam, which focuses on the most current versions of FTK and other tools, to maintain their credentials.

ACE facts and figures

Certification name AccessData Certified Examiner (ACE)
Prerequisites and required courses None; training recommended:

AccessData FTK BootCamp (three-day classroom or live online)

FTK Intermediate courses

Number of exams One test (ACE 6); includes knowledge-based and practical portions

Registration required to receive a join code to access the testing portal

Cost per exam $100 (exam fee includes retakes and recertification exams)
URL http://accessdata.com/training/computer-forensics-certification
Self-study materials There is a link to the free ACE Study Guide is on the certification webpage. The testing portal includes study videos, lessons in PDF and a practice test (with an image file).

CFCE: Certified Forensic Computer Examiner

The International Association of Computer Investigative specialists (IACIS) is the organization behind the Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE) credential. This organization caters primarily to law enforcement personnel, and you must be employed in law enforcement to qualify for regular IACIS membership.

A formal application form, along with an application fee, is necessary to join IACIS. Regular membership includes current computer/digital forensic practitioners who are current or former government or law enforcement employees or forensic contractors to a government agency. All other practitioners can apply for Associate membership to IACIS, provided they can pass a background check. Membership fees and annual renewal fees are required. IACIS membership is not required to obtain the CFCE credential.

To obtain the CFCE credential, candidates must demonstrate proficiency with CFCE core competencies. One option is IACIS’ Basic Computer Forensic Examiner (BCFE) two-week training course; it meets the 72-hour training requirement, costs $2,995, includes a free laptop and waives the IACIS membership fee for nonmembers. IACIS membership is required to attend the course. Candidates completing the training course can enroll directly in the CFCE program upon completion of the course. Those not attending the BCFE course may meet the 72-hour training requirement with a comparable course (subject to IACIS approval), pay a $750 registration fee, and successfully pass a background check to enroll in the CFCE program and sit for the exam.

The CFCE test is a two-step testing process that includes a peer review and CFCE certification testing:

  1. The peer review consists of accepting and completing four assigned practical problems based on core knowledge and skills areas for the credential. These must be solved and then presented to a mentor for initial evaluation (and assistance, where needed) before being presented for peer review. Candidates have 30 days to complete each of the practical problems.
  2. Upon successful conclusion of the peer review, candidates automatically progress to the certification phase.
    • Candidates must begin work on a hard-drive practical problem within seven days of the completion of the peer review phase. Forty days are allotted to candidates to independently analyze and report upon a forensic image of a hard drive provided to them. Following specific instructions, a written report is prepared to document the candidate’s activities and findings.
    • Once that report is accepted and passed, the process concludes with a 100-question written test (which includes true/false, multiple-choice, matching and short-answer questions). Candidates have 14 days to complete the written examination. A passing score of 80 percent or better is required for both the forensic report and the written test to earn the CFCE.

Upon completion of both the peer review and the certification phase, candidates must submit a notarized form certifying that the practical and written exams were completed independently without assistance from anyone else.

Certificants must recertify every three years to maintain the CFCE credential. Recertification requires proof of at least 40 hours of professional education, a passing score on a proficiency test in the third year, proof of computer/digital forensics work experience, or passing scores on three proficiency tests within three years, and either three years of IACIS membership or payment of a $150 recertification fee.

Despite the time and expense involved in earning a CFCE, this credential has high value and excellent name recognition in the computer forensics field. Many forensics professionals consider the CFCE a necessary merit badge to earn, especially for those who work in or for law enforcement.

CFCE facts and figures

Certification name Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE)
Prerequisites and required courses Basic Computer Forensics Examiner (BCFE) training course recommended ($2,995)

72 hours of training in computer/digital forensics comparable to CFCE core competencies; BCFE training course meets training requirement

Without BCFE training: take a comparable course, pay $750 registration fee and pass a background check

Number of exams Two-part process: Peer review (must pass to proceed to subsequent phase) and certification phase (includes hard-drive practical and written examination)
Cost per exam Included in BCFE training; $750 for the entire testing process for those not attending BCFE training
URL https://www.iacis.com/certification-2/cfce/
Self-study materials IACIS is the primary conduit for training and study materials for this certification.

CHFI: Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator

The EC-Council is a well-known training and certification organization that specializes in the areas of anti-hacking, digital forensics and penetration testing. The organization’s Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certification emphasizes forensics tools, analytical techniques, and procedures involved in obtaining, maintaining, and presenting digital forensic evidence and data in a court of law.

The EC-Council offers training for this credential but permits candidates to challenge the test without taking the course, provided they have a minimum of two years of information security experience and pay a non-refundable $100 eligibility application fee.

The CHFI course covers a wide range of courses and tools (click the test Blueprint button on the certification webpage). courses include an overview of digital forensics, in-depth coverage of the computer forensics investigation process, working with digital evidence, anti-forensics, database and cloud forensics, investigating network traffic, mobile and email forensics, and ethics, policies and regulations. Courseware is available, as well as instructor-led classroom training.

The EC-Council offers numerous other certifications of potential value to readers interested in the CHFI. These include the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), CEH (Practical), EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA), ECSA Practical, Certified Network Defender (CND) and Licensed Penetration Tester (LPT), Certified Application Security Engineer (CASE), and Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO). It also offers credentials in related areas such as disaster recovery, encryption and security analysis. Visit the EC-Council site for more info on its popular and respected credentials.

CHFI facts and figures

Certification name Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) v9
Prerequisites and required courses Application with resume and current or previous employer info required.

Candidates must agree to the EC-Council Non-Disclosure, Candidate Application and Candidate Certification agreement terms.

Training recommended but not required:

  • Live, online instructor-led training (includes courseware, six months of iLabs access, test voucher and test prep program; contact EC-Council directly for pricing)
  • iLearn self-paced class (includes one year of access to instructor-led training videos, courseware, six months of lab access and test voucher; $1,899)
  • Self-study courseware ($677)
  • Mobile training (contact EC-Council for pricing information)

To challenge the test without training, you must have two years of information security work experience and/or education to reflect specialization, pay a non-refundable application fee of $100, and complete the Exam Eligibility Application Form.

More information on the application process is located on the Application Eligibility Process webpage.

Number of exams One exam: EC0 312-49 (150 questions, four hours, passing score 70 percent, multiple choice). Available through the ECC test portal.
Cost per exam $500 (plus $100 application fee; candidates who do not participate in training must pay a $650 test fee plus $100 application fee)
URL https://www.eccouncil.org/programs/computer-hacking-forensic-investigator-chfi/
Self-study materials Visit the EC-Council Store and search for “CHFI” for preparation materials, including labs. Study guide and test guides are available on Amazon, as well as some practice exams.

EnCe: EnCase Certified Examiner

Guidance Software, acquired by OpenText in 2017, is a leader in the forensics tools and services arena. Its well-known and widely used EnCase Forensic software helps professionals acquire data from many different types of devices, complete disk-level examinations and produce reports of their findings. The company also sells software for remote investigations (EnCase Endpoint Investigator), eDiscovery, risk management, mobile investigations and endpoint security.

The company’s certification program includes the Certified Forensic Security Responder (CFSR), EnCase Certified eDiscovery Practitioner (EnCEP) and EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCe). Available to professionals in the public and private sector, the EnCE recognizes an individual’s proficiency using EnCase Forensic software and mastery of computer investigation methodology, including evidence collection, preservation, file verification, file signatures and hashing, first responder activities, and much more.

To achieve EnCe certification, candidates must show proof of a minimum of 64 hours of authorized computer forensic training or 12 months of qualified work experience, complete an application, and then successfully complete a two-phase test that includes a written and practical portion.

EnCE certifications are valid for three years from the date obtained. Recertification requires one of the following:

  • 32 credit hours of continuing education in computer forensics or incident response
  • A computer forensics or incident response-related certification
  • Attendance at an Enfuse conference (at least 10 sessions)

EnCE facts and figures

Certification name EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCe)
Prerequisites and required courses Required: 64 hours of authorized computer forensic training or 12 months of work experience in computer forensics

Training options through Guidance Software:

  • EnCE Prep Course (DF310), classroom, virtual classroom or on demand ($2,195)
  • EnCE Certification Bootcamp (aimed at new digital investigators) – includes DF120 (Foundations in Digital Forensics), DF210 (Building an Investigation) and DF310 ($5,085 for the bundle)

Completion of the EnCE application

Number of exams One two-phase exam:
  • Phase I written test (180 questions, two hours, minimum passing score 80 percent), delivered via ExamBuilder
  • Phase II practical test (18 questions, 60 days, minimum passing score 85 percent)

Passing the Phase I test earns an electronic license to complete the Phase II exam.

Cost per exam $200 total, or $300 international

$75 renewal fee

URL https://www2.guidancesoftware.com/training/Pages/ence-certification-program.aspx
Self-study materials Study materials provided in Guidance Software courses. Check Amazon for availability of current and practice exams.

Learning On Demand subscription provides access to 400 courses across the OpenText Learning Services platform.

GCFA And GCFE Certifications

SANS is the organization behind the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) program. It is a well-respected and highly regarded player in the information security field in general. SANS not only teaches and researches in this area, it also provides breaking news, operates a security alert service, and serves on all kinds of government, research and academic information security task forces, working groups, and industry organizations.

The organization’s incident response and forensics credentials include the following:

  • GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE)
  • GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA)
  • GIAC Reverse Engineering Malware (GREM)
  • GIAC Network Forensic Analyst (GNFA)
  • GIAC Advanced Smartphone Forensics (GASF)
  • GIAC Cyber Threat Intelligence (GCTI)

The intermediate GCFE and the more senior GCFA are the focus of this section. Neither credential requires taking SANS courses (which have a strong reputation for being among the best in the cybersecurity community, with high-powered instructors to match), but they are recommended to candidates and often offered before, during or after SANS conferences held around the U.S. at regular intervals.

Both the GCFE and GCFA focus on computer forensics in the context of investigation and incident response, and thus also focus on the skills and knowledge needed to collect and analyze data from Windows and/or Linux computer systems during such activities. Candidates must possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and ability to conduct formal incident investigations and advanced incident handling, including dealing with internal and external data breaches, intrusions, and cyberthreats; collecting and preserving evidence; understanding anti-forensic techniques; and building and documenting advanced digital forensic cases.

Most SANS GIAC credentials are valid for four years. Candidates may recertify for the GCFE and GCFA by earning 36 continuing professional experience (CPE) credits. In addition, credential holders must pay a certification maintenance fee of $429 every four years.

The SANS GIAC program encompasses more than 36 information security certifications across a broad range of courses and disciplines. IT professionals interested in information security in general, as well as digital forensics, would be well advised to investigate further on the GIAC homepage.

GCFE and GCFA facts and figures

Certification name GIAC Certified Forensic Examiner (GCFE)

GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA)

Prerequisites and required courses None

GCFE recommended course: FOR500: Windows Forensic Analysis ($6,210)

GCFA recommended course: FOR508: Advanced Digital Forensics, Incident Response, and Threat Hunting ($6,210)

Number of exams One test for each credential (115 questions, three hours, passing score of 71 percent)

Exams proctored by Pearson VUE. Registration with GIAC required to schedule an exam.

Cost per exam $769 if part of training/bootcamp

$1,899 (no training – referred to as a certification challenge)

Additional details available here.

URL www.giac.org
Self-study materials Practice tests available on the GIAC test preparation page (two tests included in test fee; additional practice tests are $159 each). Study guides and practice exams can be found on Amazon and other typical channels.

Beyond the top 5: More digital forensics certifications

There are lots of other certification programs that can help to further the careers of IT professionals who work in digital forensics.

One certification we’ve featured in the past is the CyberSecurity Institute’s CyberSecurity Forensic Analyst (CSFA). The CyberSecurity Institute provides digital forensic services aimed at law firms, businesses and individuals, and administers a small but well-respected certification program. The CSFA is designed for security professionals with at least two years of experience performing digital forensic analysis on computers and devices running the Windows operating system and creating investigative reports. Although the certification didn’t generate as many job board hits as our other featured certifications, the CSFA is still worth your attention.

The same goes for the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) from the International Society of Forensic Computer Examiners, also known as ISFCE. The CCE is well recognized in the industry and in the law enforcement community as a leading credential for digital forensics professionals, but it fell a little short on job board hits during our review this year.

Other good certifications include the Professional Certified Investigator (PCI), a senior-level, vendor-neutral computer investigations and forensics credential available through ASIS International. The organization also offers the Certified Protection Professional (CPP), which includes an investigation component, and the Physical Security Professional (PSP) in its certification program. Forensics candidates can also pursue one of the High Tech Crime Network vendor-neutral certifications – the Certified Computer Crime Investigator or Certified Computer Forensic Technician, both of which have a Basic and an Advanced credential.

If you look around online, you’ll find numerous other forensics hardware and software vendors that offer certifications and plenty of other organizations that didn’t make the cut for the 2019 list of the best digital forensics certifications. But before you wander outside the items mentioned in this article, you might want to research the sponsoring organization’s history and the number of people who’ve earned its credentials, and then determine whether the sponsor not only requires training but stands to profit from its purchase.

You might also want to ask a practicing digital forensics professional if they’ve heard of the certifications you found on your own and, if so, what that professional thinks of those offerings.

Tue, 11 Oct 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10755-best-digital-forensics-certifications.html
Killexams : Microsoft will launch an AI graphics app powered by DALL•E

This summer text-to-image Artificial Intelligence (AI) softwares DALL∙E and Midjourney rose in popularity among architects, artists, and designers. With just a few descriptive keywords and phrases the models are able to collage together a visual representation of the input text using its memory database of visuals. While the results are sometimes memeable, the engineers are training the models to be smarter, proving that they are a design tool, capable of producing concepts and life-like renderings. And soon, Microsoft users will be able to reap the power of text-to-image AI through a new platform called Microsoft Designer, part of the Microsoft Office suite alongside Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

Microsoft Designer will be powered by DALL∙E 2, a machine learning model developed by OpenAI first revealed in January 2021. The Microsoft program will have a similar interface to that of DALL∙E, a box where users can input their text prompt which will then generate visuals based on the input description. Users can then export the creation or use it on a variety of templates to design social media posts, invitations, posters, and other graphic content.

The app is designed to save users time and it can be managed by anyone, regardless of their artistic experience and capabilities.

“Designer invites you to start with an idea and let the AI do the heavy lifting,” Corporate Vice President for Modern Life, Search, and Devices Liat Ben-Zur noted in a press release. “As you work in Designer, every surface of the app is powered by AI to help ensure consistent, aligned, properly scaled, and beautiful designs, even with or without any inherent design ability.”

Microsoft announced the new program and integration at an event yesterday that teased a number of other products launching soon, including Surface computers, Windows 11 updates, and upgrades to Microsoft Edge. The Washington-headquartered technology company said it has future plans for Designer, and hopes to bring the tool to its search engine Bing and its web browser Edge. When Designer officially launches in app form it will be at no cost to users, however, Microsoft 365 subscribers will be granted access to premium features.

For those hurry to get their hands on the new software Microsoft will allow users to gain early access to test out its features and provide feedback. The form for doing so is available online.

Microsoft’s announcement comes just days after Open AI, the company behind DALL∙E opened the software to the public, doing away with the long waitlist and paywall to join and create content on the platform, Craiyon (née DALL·E mini developed by Boris Dayma for Hugging Face) still remains free to use online.

While AI and its capabilities are exciting, the future of the technology is also quite daunting, raising questions about labor, is there a future in which the role of an architect or designer is taken over by a computer? Similarly, inherent visual biases found within the data sets the models pull from and the issue of copyright and ownership on the generated visuals also will need to be addressed.

Thu, 13 Oct 2022 07:46:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.archpaper.com/2022/10/microsoft-will-launch-an-ai-graphics-app-powered-by-dalle/
Killexams : One of The Nation's Largest Basic Income Experiments Is Now Underway Photo: Kamil Krzaczynsi (Getty Images) © Photo: Kamil Krzaczynsi (Getty Images) Photo: Kamil Krzaczynsi (Getty Images)

Illinois’ Cook County, which includes Chicago, has opened up applications for one of the largest guaranteed basic income pilots in the U.S. to date.

Starting this week, Cook County residents can apply to become one of 3,250 households set to receive monthly, no-strings-attached $500 payments as part of its “Guaranteed Income Pilot.” The payments will extend for two years and total $42 million. Once the payout begins, Cook County and Los Angeles County—the two largest in the U.S—will both have active programs measuring the effectiveness of basic income. The results of those pilots could play a significant role in shaping future basic income frameworks on the state and possibly even federal levels.

Cook County officials hope the pilot can Boost participants’ financial and health outcomes and provide some new insights on the impacts of direct cash payments for individuals and their communities. According to the program’s website, the pilot is limited to residents above the age of 18 with a household income level that falls at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Level. That income restriction technically prevents Cook County’s program from meeting the definition of the more well-known “universal basic income,” though the general concept here is pretty similar. Notably, the program is eligible for residents regardless of their citizenship status. Researchers at the Economy Lab at the University of Chicago will analyze data collected during the pilot.

“After months of hard work, Cook County is proud to be launching the application portal for the largest publicly-funded guaranteed income pilot in American history,” Cook County Board of Commissioner President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement. “We estimate that nearly 36% of Cook County residents will be eligible to participate, and I encourage everyone who meets the requirements to apply.”

The Cook County effort comes on the heels of a successful landmark guaranteed income experiment in Stockton, California last year. That program, which kicked off in 2019, gave $500 per month to 125 residents living in neighborhoods below the city’s median household income. Crucially, those funds were given with no strings attached, so residents could spend it however they saw fit. After one full year, researchers determined recipients found full-time employment at more than twice the rate of those who did not receive the funds. The recipients also tended to Boost their overall financial, physical and emotional health.

“SEED gave people the dignity to make their own choices, the ability to live up to their potential and improved economic stability going into the turmoil of the pandemic,” former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs said in a statement. Since then, counties near Los Angeles, Oakland, and Boston have all begun running their own guaranteed income trials and experiments. In the L.A. Country case, 1,000 residents are expected to receive significantly higher $1,000 monthly payments for three years.

Universal basic income isn’t a particularly new idea, but it gained renewed attention during the last presidential election cycle when Democratic dark horse candidate Andrew Yang made it the focal point of his platform. Yang failed to advance and then failed again in New York’s mayoral elections. Now, like so many 21st-century burnouts, Yang’s mostly moved on to shilling for crypto, but the interest in UBI lives on.

In 2020, a narrow majority (55%) of U.S. voters surveyed in a Hill-Harris X poll said they supported universal basic income, a figure up 12 percentage points from the previous year. That poll saw particularly high support among younger voters who identified as Democrats. Another survey conducted around the same time by Pew Research however found a slight majority (54%) of U.S. adults said they opposed basic income.

Fri, 07 Oct 2022 11:58:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/news/one-of-the-nations-largest-basic-income-experiments-is-now-underway/ar-AA12IFg1
Killexams : Microsoft and Haleon launch effort to help visually impaired people access product info

Haleon—the marketer of Advil, Theraflu, Sensodyne, Voltaren and more—is partnering with Microsoft to use the tech giant's Seeing AI app to make product information more accessible for people who are visually impaired.

The launch, timed for World Sight Day on Oct. 13, will let people scan a product bar code using their phones to generate an audio guide with product information, instructions, ingredients and other key details. It covers 1,500 products in the U.S. and U.K. for Haleon, formed earlier this year from the spinoff of GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer health business.

The launch follows a survey commissioned by Haleon that found around one in five people who are blind or have low sight have taken the wrong dosage of a medication because they couldn’t read the labels sufficiently. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 1 million people in the U.S. live with blindness and there are 40 million people over 40 who have low vision.

“We’re really happy to be able to access a technology that already existed for consumers who were blind or had low vision to allow them to listen to their labels,” said Katie Williams, chief marketing officer of Haleon U.S.

To market the collaboration, Haleon is working with creators in the blind and low-vision community to build buzz, and starting in the first half of next year will work with retailers to “bring this to life in-store and online with a full platform of marketing activitation,” Williams said. WPP’s VMLY&R is handling the shopper marketing work around the program.

While the effort is in keeping with Haleon’s purpose, it’s not just about doing the right thing but also likely good for business she said. “We wanted to make sure we did anything we could to reduce the barriers to accessing health care with [an app] that already had broad reach with the communities we want to serve.”

The Seeing AI app was developed in 2016 by a team of Microsoft engineers led by Saqib Shaikh, who lost his sight at age 7. He said he got the chance to start the project when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella gave everyone in the company a week to pursue a project of personal interest. The app is now available in the Apple App Store and is being developed for Android as well.

“We call it a talking camera for the blind community, and that really means that, powered by AI, we can help people with everyday tasks,” Shaikh said. “Identifying what’s on the package is definitely an important one. But we also enable going through your photos, recognizing who’s around you, reading books and so much more.”

Getting Haleon’s product catalog into the system wasn’t just a straight data dump. “We worked with Microsoft to enhance the experience,” Williams said. “So when people are interacting with our packaging, the experience is as usable and user-friendly as possible.”

Accommodations in products, packaging and marketing for people with disability is a relatively new movement in packaged goods, and it’s not always as easy. Unilever began working with WPP’s Wunderman Thompson to test a Degree Inclusive line of deodorants for people with visual or upper body disabilities last year. While the effort won an Innovation Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions last year, the final product line has yet to roll out as Unilever works to change or add features based on input from test users.

Fri, 14 Oct 2022 06:05:00 -0500 en text/html https://adage.com/article/marketing-news-strategy/microsoft-haleon-launch-effort-help-visually-impaired-people-access-product-info/2442236
Killexams : Are you smarter than a Year 12 student? Try these HSC test questions </head> <body id="readabilityBody" readability="27.954545454545"> <h3>Newscorp Australia are trialling new security software on our mastheads. If you receive "Potential automated action detected!" please try these steps first:</h3> <ol type="1"> <li>Temporarily disable any AdBlockers / pop-up blockers / script blockers you have enabled</li> <li>Add this site in to the allowed list for any AdBlockers / pop-up blockers / script blockers you have enabled</li> <li>Ensure your browser supports JavaScript (this can be done via accessing <a href="https://www.whatismybrowser.com/detect/is-javascript-enabled" target="_blank">https://www.whatismybrowser.com/detect/is-javascript-enabled</a> in your browser)</li> <li>Ensure you are using the latest version of your web browser</li> </ol> <p>If you need to be unblocked please e-mail us at accessissues@news.com.au and provide the IP address and reference number shown here along with why you require access. News Corp Australia.</p><p>Your IP address is: 108.167.164.204 | Your reference number is: 0.87382f17.1666000265.19f7b2</p> </body> </description> <pubDate>Mon, 10 Oct 2022 15:44:00 -0500</pubDate> <dc:format>text/html</dc:format> <dc:identifier>https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/school-life/are-you-smarter-than-a-year-12-student-try-these-hsc-exam-questions/news-story/165c426d4278f5e2abce91389fdec082</dc:identifier> </item> <item> <title>Killexams : Could you answer last year's NCEA test questions?

RNZ

A new mandatory NCEA literacy and numeracy test could be too tough for some pupils. Secondary school students will have to pass the new requirement to get any level of NCEA from 2023. (Video first published in December 2020)

NCEA examinations are just weeks away, with thousands of secondary school students expected to sit the tests when they kick off on November 7.

Recent changes to our national qualification framework have sparked controversy. New literacy and numeracy standards set to be introduced in 2024 have been criticised for being too difficult, and moves to digitise exams and assessments have received mixed reviews from students and educators.

Mathematics exams have proven particularly curly in the past – tricky questions have been the subject of a string of complaints since 2017.

Would you be able to ace last year’s exams? Test your knowledge on these 2021 NCEA test questions.

READ MORE:
* 14 NCEA subjects to offer digital exams in 2019
* How hard was that NCEA Level 1 Maths exam?
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Level 1 Mathematics and Statistics – Apply algebraic procedures in solving problems

Ben has been painting some straight lines on the field for his rugby team to do some training exercises.

The total length of all the painted lines shown in the diagram below is 20 metres.

If the shaded area is 14m², find the possible values of x.

Level 1 Physics – Demonstrate understanding of aspects of wave behaviour

Water is poured into a cup, and a coin appears, as shown below.

NZQA/Supplied

An image from a Level 1 physics exam.

Explain why you cannot see the coin in the cup with no water, but when water is poured into the cup, the coin suddenly appears.

Use a ray diagram to help explain your answer.

Level 2 Biology – Demonstrate understanding of life processes at the cellular level

A) Photosynthesis occurs in the leaves of plants. Describe the process of photosynthesis.

B) Water is an important requirement for the process of photosynthesis. Explain how water enters a plant AND how it is used in the light-dependent reaction.

Level 2 Economics – Analyse inflation using economic concepts and models

In 2020, New Zealand’s inflation rate was 1.4%. Despite this relatively low inflation rate, the price of some goods and services increased significantly. For example, the overall price of fresh fruit and vegetables increased by 8.9%.

A) Explain why not all households will be equally affected by an 8.9% increase in the overall price of fresh fruit and vegetables.

B) Explain one reason why the 2020 inflation rate of 1.4% was less than the 8.9% increase in the overall price of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Level 3 Chemistry – Demonstrate understanding of thermochemical principles and the properties of particles and substances

Explain the difference in the atomic radii of calcium and selenium.

Level 3 Calculus – Apply integration methods in solving problems

A water tank developed a leak.

6 hours after the tank started to leak, the volume of water in the tank was 400 litres.

10 hours after the tank started to leak, the volume of water in the tank was 256 litres.

The rate at which the water leaks out of the tank at any instant is proportional to the square root of the volume of the water in the tank at that instant.

How much water was in the tank at the instant it started to leak?

You must use calculus and show the results of any integration needed to solve the problem.

Tue, 11 Oct 2022 12:00:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/300709031/could-you-answer-last-years-ncea-exam-questions
Killexams : An INK-redible way to cheat! Spanish law student etched answers to test questions onto his pens

An INK-redible way to cheat! Spanish law student etched answers to test questions onto his pens

  • University of Malaga revealed the pens confiscated during a law exam
  • The student had etched answers to the Criminal Procedural Law test on biros 
  • The ruse was exposed and the pens were seized but many praised the audacity 

A mischievous Spanish law student went to extreme lengths to cheat on his exams by etching answers on to his pens, his teacher has revealed.

Yolanda de Lucchi, a professor at the University of Malaga, showed the pens she and her colleagues confiscated during the test.

She displayed the 11 pens, each with tiny writing etched across the plastic body of the blue biros, in a post on Twitter.

A mischievous Spanish law student went to extreme lengths to cheat on his exams by etching answers on to his pens, his teacher has revealed

Ms De Lucchi said the pens were confiscated during an test on Criminal Procedural Law.

The crafty student was exposed a number of years back but the teacher rediscovered the offending items while cleaning out her drawer.

She posted on Twitter: 'The criminal procedural law in BIC pens. What art!

'Cheat sheets aren't like they used to be.' 

A close-up of the pens shows the incredible detail of the ruse, with tiny letters filling every available space.

One Twitter user who replied to the teacher claimed to be a friend of the cheating student.

The crafty student was exposed a number of years back but the teacher rediscovered the offending items while cleaning out her drawer

Gonzo said: 'Hello Yolanda. I know the author of that wonderful work perfectly. In fact, he has authorized me, ignoring his name, logically, to show you some more that he still keeps at home. 

'The technique used by the artist, as he himself tells me, was to replace the graphite lead of a mechanical pencil with a needle, which made it super easy for him to etch the pen.'

Gonzo then showed off a number of photos of the biros modified over the years.

De Lucchi said: 'That could not happen today.

'Now students would not make an effort to have such a detailed cheat sheet for an exam. 

'They live at the click of a button, by what happens instantly; that is impossible to see today.'

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Thu, 13 Oct 2022 00:05:00 -0500 text/html https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11310991/Cheating-Spanish-law-student-etched-answers-exam-questions-pens.html
Killexams : SAS Viya now available through Microsoft Azure marketplace No result found, try new keyword!Click here to learn more about SAS Viya on the Microsoft Azure marketplace. “We’re excited to offer customers a new way to gain access to SAS Viya while continuing ... “We design and test our software ... Mon, 03 Oct 2022 22:37:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://businesstech.co.za/news/industry-news/630763/sas-viya-now-available-through-microsoft-azure-marketplace/ Killexams : How graduate workers are using Canvas, or not, to support their unionization efforts

Michael Johnson III is a graduate instructor teaching a basic algebra class and a union representative for the Indiana Graduate Workers Coalition-United Electrical Workers.  

Johnson isn’t using Canvas as much this year. Instead, he’s storing grades in a private spreadsheet.  

Due to concerns about administrative surveillance and academic freedom, IU graduate instructors told the Indiana Daily Student the IGWC-UE has had discussions about using Canvas in a way that gives graduate workers more control over how they teach courses.  

They said they are trying to find a strategic way to use Canvas this semester to make their union efforts stronger. 

The conversation comes in the midst of a more than three-year movement protesting working conditions, fees and pay at IU, which culminated in a strike last string. The IGWC-UE voted no to another proposed strike Sept. 26, expressing hope that ongoing negotiations with IU would lead to partial union recognition this semester.  

Related: [Graduate workers vote against a new strike

Why move away from Canvas? 

Johnson said lessening the use of Canvas would make it harder for the university to mitigate the effects of a potential strike. If the university or departments were to replace the grad workers’ labor, Johnson said, they could pick up their Canvas page and move on without them. 

However, obscuring grades, quizzes, activities and feedback from the Canvas page accessible to administrators would be part of withholding the student academic appointees’ labor, Johnson said.   

The strategic use of Canvas is not a form of striking, Johnson said. He said minimizing Canvas use could take many forms depending on the individual instructor, but he’s primarily been using Canvas this semester to send announcements to students and to post the syllabus and assignment sheets.   

To allow students to access grades, Johnson said he has a private spreadsheet stored in SharePoint through IU. The university’s  data management guide lists SharePoint as an approved storage system for academic records related to students.  

Johnson said the students’ names are not listed in the spreadsheet, as there is a randomized 16-digit string corresponding to each of them. The order of students is randomized, and he also has “fake” students mixed in. Johnson said he keeps the correspondence of names and strings in a private spreadsheet. He said he emailed each student their individual code so they can compare it to the spreadsheet, and they must enter their IU credentials to view the spreadsheet. 

When his coordinator asked to see the grades, he showed them the spreadsheet to prove he was tracking grades, Johnson said. He said he also posted a singular overall grade after the first exam, as a sign of goodwill and faith, but he maintains the spreadsheet as the day-to-day grades while negotiations continue.

What is IU’s policy? 

IU policy states graduate instructors must be supervised by a qualified faculty member. According to a policy obtained by the IDS regarding support and supervision of graduate workers, all graduate instructors are required to use IU’s learning management system, Canvas, to maintain consistency in supervision.  

IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said in an email that Canvas is IU’s approved management system because it provides a one-stop-shop for students to access grades and class resources. It also provides consistency in the transition from high school to college and protects personal student information in line with IU’s data security policy.   

The IDS obtained a statement written by administrators in response to questions from the College SAA Council concerning the use of Canvas and how campus officials monitor it. The document said the council had asked why the use of Canvas was required if an instructor had reasons to use another platform.  

Related: [IU administration is opposed to IGWC-UE union’s recognition. Faculty, graduate workers speculate why.

In the document, campus officials stated requiring undergraduate students to navigate multiple learning management systems would be complicated. Officials also said IU’s cyber-risk mitigation policy directs all units to use approved services and software, and this is especially pertinent with respect to keeping student grades and information private.   

The document also stated IU deans have the ability to view aggregate information about SAA use of Canvas. Access to the information is limited to deans and their named designees, the document said, and information is used only to determine where SAA-led instruction may not be happening. No class content, grades or materials will be visible, the document said. Examples of information that would be visible included assignment submissions by students and the number of grades posted by SAAs.   

Information gathered from IU deans’ access to Canvas would be the basis of any action taken against an SAA, the document stated.   

IU’s data sharing and handling policies comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. Under IU’s data classification guide, student academic records are classified as restricted, meaning there are specific places approved for the storage of this data. These locations include Microsoft at IU, Slate, SharePoint Online and Canvas.  

FERPA states the public posting of grades by a student’s name, identification number or Social Security number without the student’s written permission is a violation. IU’s FERPA guide states faculty should “Consider using Canvas or university tools with built-in security mechanisms.” 

Jeff Johnston is IU’s University Registrar and Student Records Data Steward. Johnston said Canvas is the most strongly-recommend system to store grades because data on Canvas is always backed up. He said it is also more convenient for students because they don’t have to look in multiple different places for course information and grades.  

“We strongly encourage the use of Canvas for a number of reasons,” Johnston said. “Primarily it’s for the student experience and to safeguard that data.” 

Johnston said Microsoft Excel and SharePoint are approved for storing restricted data, including grades, because they can also be useful for storing other types of data, such as research. The platforms can also be useful for courses like independent study, where an instructor may not need a platform as large as Canvas to communicate with a student.  

Although Canvas is the preferred method of grade storage, Johnston said instructors are allowed to store grades elsewhere as long as it is in an approved system.  

What are graduate workers saying?  

Evan Arnet is a graduate instructor who will teach a course about ethical issues in biomedical sciences during the fall semester’s second eight weeks. Arnet said there are concerns about administrative meddling in how instructors want to teach their courses.  

“The idea of the guidance is so we can have control over our own work but also that students are not negatively affected — that we’re still in compliance with IU policy, and students can still make sure they see their grades in a timely manner,” Arnet said. “It’s a way to kind of prioritize education, while at the same time ensuring that we have ownership over our work.”   

Some graduate workers see the data surveillance policy with intent to undermine possible collective action, Arnet said, and they fear administrator interference with established course design.   

“Graduate instructors already have — if they’re working with a faculty member — they already have oversight over course design,” Arnet said. “We’re already getting input from experts in our field.”  

He said there is a “soft-requirement” for at least some Canvas use. A College Supervisory Plan launched over the summer by the College of Arts and Sciences said, at minimum, each SAA must use Canvas to post assignments, make announcements, provide a record of grades to date and maintain an up-to-date syllabus.   

IU’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors released a resolution in July 2022 on strike contingency planning and SAA supervision. In the resolution, the AAUP called on the administration to “recognize that faculty and graduate students cannot be mandated by the administration to use any specific learning management system, including Canvas.”   

Zheng Zhou, graduate student and previous instructor, said that IU Slate, an approved site, was also used to store student grades during last year’s strike rather than posting them on Canvas.  

Zhou said he thinks moving grades to another platform makes accessing grades different in some ways, such as whether students get emails from Slate rather than Canvas, but doesn’t affect whether undergraduates receive training or grades.  

“The undergrads still get what they’re paying for, still get what their parents are paying for, to fulfill their purpose, so I wouldn’t necessarily say much has changed,” Zhou said.  

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misstated what a source was using as an alternative to Canvas.

Tue, 11 Oct 2022 09:41:00 -0500 text/html https://www.idsnews.com/article/2022/10/graduate-workers-using-canvas-support-unionization-efforts-strike-grades
Killexams : Meta Quest Pro VR Headset Hands-On: What $1,500 Does for the Metaverse

Meta's new VR headset costs $1,500. I just want to get that part out there and let it sink in. For anyone used to spending $300 to $400 on the Meta Quest 2 as an entry ticket to the metaverse, this may come as a shock. 

The Meta Quest Pro, announced at Meta's Connect conference on Tuesday, arrives Oct. 25. I got a chance to try it out during a latest visit to Meta's Reality Labs Research headquarters in Redmond, Washington, and it isn't trying to be your everyday home headset.

In fact, after using it for about an hour or two, it reminded me more of Microsoft's professional-level HoloLens 2 than any consumer VR headset I've ever worn. And its price, while it initially seems super expensive, falls right in the range where business AR and VR headsets are anyway.

The Meta Quest Pro virtual reality headset and its new controllers. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET The Meta Quest Pro virtual reality headset and its new controllers. Scott Stein/CNET

Think of the Quest Pro as what might happen if the HoloLens 2 and Quest 2 got married, and this was their kid. The Quest Pro is still a standalone VR headset, just like the Quest 2, but its capabilities extend to scanning the real world using cameras and depth sensors and overlaying that with virtual objects. The mixed-reality experience it creates feels like the AR experiences that Magic Leap and HoloLens create, but instead of using see-through lenses with projected ghostly 3D images on top, it shows color video of the world around you on its display, while adding VR to the mix. (The Quest 2 headset has some of these abilities too, but with a much grainier black-and-white camera.) The new controllers are smaller, have better haptics and promise more reliable tracking -- they also have their own cameras now. 

Meta Quest Pro: $1,500 at Meta

The Pro also has a more powerful processor -- a new Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Plus that promises up to 50% more performance power over the Quest 2 -- and eye and face tracking inside the headset, which Meta plans on using for both improved graphics over time, and creating more emotionally reactive VR avatars that could smile, frown or make genuine eye contact. (This won't be the last headset doing mixed reality like this. Qualcomm said in a statement that upcoming headsets this year will also use the XR2 Plus platform.)

Sliding the slimmer headset onto my face, I immediately appreciated that it fits over my glasses perfectly. Also, the outside world wasn't blocked off from my peripheral vision, even as I saw virtual objects, shown in VR, layered on top of the world around me. It was like AR experiences you'd have on a phone, but in full 3D. I could reach out and move things, using the Pro's improved controllers. When one of my demos was over, someone nearby said to me "welcome back." But the funny thing is, with the Quest Pro's mixed reality, it feels like I never left the room. Instead of being taken to virtual places, the virtual things came to me.

I made a lot of weird expressions wearing the Quest Pro. Meta © Provided by CNET I made a lot of weird expressions wearing the Quest Pro. Meta

While Meta dreams of carrying everyone into a billion-person metaverse that feels like the future of computing, existing VR headsets have limits on their usefulness, and they block out the outside world. Getting to everyday AR glasses is the end goal, but in the meantime, the Quest Pro is a bridge that begins to bring AR into a Meta headset while still keeping VR in the mix. However, this type of $1,500 device isn't looking to bring more everyday people in. Instead, it's aiming to capture the business and research market that has, to this point, been more the domain of companies such as HTC, Microsoft and Magic Leap. 

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who talked to a handful of reporters (including me) during my visit to Meta Reality Labs Research, said about the Quest Pro, "The people who we're targeting, it's going to be either people who just want the highest-end VR device -- enthusiast, prosumer folks -- or people who are trying to get work done."

CTO Andrew Bosworth, who I also talked to during my Quest Pro demos, added, "The system is also the best place to play games," emphasizing the system's enhanced display and room-tracking controllers. "I think this stuff is going to take existing experiences that people are having today in VR and make them better."

Using the Meta Quest Pro gave me HoloLens and Magic Leap feelings. Meta © Provided by CNET Using the Meta Quest Pro gave me HoloLens and Magic Leap feelings. Meta

After positioning the original Quest as a self-contained, game-playing home VR console, Facebook's ambitions for the Quest Pro go a lot deeper. Zuckerberg has already laid out big plans for a cross-device metaverse as a new form of work and social computing. How exactly Meta aims to get there still hasn't been fully solved, even with VR. That next part may start with the Quest Pro and other AR devices Meta is trying to create.

The Quest Pro is also part of a new VR product strategy for Meta, building out a pro VR product line that will live alongside the mainstream lower-cost consumer models. The Pro arrives two years after the Quest 2 was released, and a Quest 3 should still be on its way, perhaps in 2023. 

A demo I tried of the Quest Pro using Meta's Horizon Workrooms, where I sat across from another avatar at my desk. Meta © Provided by CNET A demo I tried of the Quest Pro using Meta's Horizon Workrooms, where I sat across from another avatar at my desk. Meta

Pro VR headsets that blend in mixed reality with pass-through cameras already exist, but the best ones, like the lidar-equipped Varjo XR-3, cost thousands of dollars (Varjo's more latest Aero headset runs $1,990). Standalone AR headsets cost thousands, too: the Magic Leap 2 is $3,300; the HoloLens 2 is $3,500; HTC's standalone Vive Focus 3 VR headset costs $1,300. In that context, the $1,500 Meta Quest Pro doesn't seem outrageously priced at all. But at that price, it'll likely only appeal to enthusiasts with a reason to buy a mixed-reality device in Meta's ecosystem or to businesses that can justify the cost as a professional expense.

The Quest Pro's lenses are more adjustable, and the display feels more expansive. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET The Quest Pro's lenses are more adjustable, and the display feels more expansive. Scott Stein/CNET

Display: It almost feels like a window

The display's wider field of view and its new, slimmer pancake optics lenses make the front of the Quest Pro feel more like a visor, and it slips down over my face just as easily. The headset tightens in the back with a dial, similar to other AR/VR headsets, like the PlayStation VR 2 and Meta's own Elite strap for the Quest 2. The front lenses can be moved forward and back, and also adjusted to a wider range of eye distances (interpupillary distance) than the Quest 2.

The display's better than the Quest 2's, with quantum dot LED-backlit LCD displays that have better local dimming (not OLED, but it gets closer to better black levels). The display is also meant to be sharper-looking both head-on and at angles, with higher pixel density and better color range.

Because I'm able to see things in my peripheral vision, the passthrough color camera display in the headset almost feels like an extension of the rest of the world. It adds to the feel of an AR headset, as opposed to a VR one, even though the Quest Pro is technically a VR headset. Included silicone light-blockers are meant to make apps feel more traditionally VR-like, and a separately sold full-immersion attachment for $50 is meant to block still more light. The Quest Pro isn't ideal if you're looking for a personal enclosed theater effect; instead, it seems better as a VR device that will let you see things around you at the same time.

The Quest Pro has extra depth sensors in addition to its color cameras, plus sensors inside the headset. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET The Quest Pro has extra depth sensors in addition to its color cameras, plus sensors inside the headset. Scott Stein/CNET

The Quest Pro has five sensors inside the headset, five outside (a variety of cameras and infrared sensors) and two cameras on the controllers, which run on a Snapdragon 662 processor. (They don't capture video for the time being, but who knows if that could become a possibility?)

Almost all the demos I got to try in the Quest Pro were in mixed-reality modes, leaning on that blend of pass-through camera video and VR graphics. Meta says the pass-through camera quality is four times better than on the Quest 2, but it still feels multiple levels behind the crispness of everyday vision.

Me, bending down to pick up a virtual object. I could see it as if it was in the real world. Meta © Provided by CNET Me, bending down to pick up a virtual object. I could see it as if it was in the real world. Meta

Still, it's good enough to see the world around me; it feels like it's in 3D (the Quest Pro has depth mapping infrared up to five meters, similar to the way AR headsets and lidar work) and feels like the VR blends surprisingly well, at times.

Using an updated version of the Quest app Painting VR, I walked up to an easel standing in my demo room, reaching for brushes on a table next to me. Some brushes were on a virtual table and others were on a real one. I had to double-check for a moment to remind myself which was which. After I finished my triceratops masterpiece, I hung it on one of the curtained walls of my demo space and walked up to it to admire the brushwork.

Figmin XR, a mixed reality app I demoed in the Quest Pro. No headset capture was available at my demo, but this image shows what to expect (it looked a lot better in-headset). Figmin © Provided by CNET Figmin XR, a mixed reality app I demoed in the Quest Pro. No headset capture was available at my demo, but this image shows what to expect (it looked a lot better in-headset). Figmin

Another app, Wooorld, opened up a 3D Google Earth map on the floor in front of me with landscapes popping up. I zoomed into my own home in New Jersey, and then popped into Google's Street View in VR. Figmin XR, another app demo, had me painting using a version of Tilt Brush, a popular VR painting app, optimized for mixed reality. I drew curling rainbows in the air, reminding me of experiences I had on Magic Leap and HoloLens years ago. Another part of the Figment XR app, a free-building sandbox space with physics, allowed me to drop balls down ramps, or just bounce them off the floor.

The mixed-reality features may sound gimmicky, but there could be legitimate value for designers laying 3D objects into real spaces or for performers using headsets in public. A demo of the DJ app Tribe XR put me in front of a mixing board and turntables, but I could see the rest of the room and the people I was talking to. I started to think about this in an genuine club or theater, and I could see it being surprisingly effective.

Trying out face tracking with the Quest Pro: I tried lots of expressions, and learned my limits. Meta © Provided by CNET Trying out face tracking with the Quest Pro: I tried lots of expressions, and learned my limits. Meta

Face-tracking: A future of optional extras

The Quest Pro's eye- and face-tracking are new for Meta and come with plenty of data privacy questions. The tracking is mainly designed, at first, for avatar control. In a demo in Horizon Workrooms, I was able to smile and blink while talking to another avatar who had face-tracking turned on in their Quest Pro. The effect when I saw their avatar was a little uncanny; eyes blinked oddly at times, smiles could seem like grimaces. But another demo showing off deeper control settings for a more advanced alien-type prototype avatar showed a whole range of cheek-puffing, lip-curling, brow-furrowing and more. There's a lot that avatars could end up tuned for, but how responsive and realistic they'd appear remains to be seen. According to Meta, accommodations could be made for those with an inability to make certain facial expressions, using AI to tune for one's own capabilities.

The Quest Pro has cameras for eye tracking, and face tracking below those. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET The Quest Pro has cameras for eye tracking, and face tracking below those. Scott Stein/CNET

Eye-tracking also can enable better graphics through a technology called foveated rendering, which only focuses on high-res details in the center of wherever your eye is looking. The PlayStation VR 2 uses this tech, but the Quest Pro didn't have it enabled in my demos. In between demos in Redmond, Zuckerberg told us that the decision to add foveated rendering isn't a slam dunk: It could affect battery life, which, according to Meta, is already only one to two hours on the Quest Pro. Maybe that's why it wasn't activated yet, or perhaps early-wave app developers in my demos haven't yet figured out how to optimize for it.

Eye-tracking isn't on by default; it gets turned on in settings, and specific apps can ask for permission to use it. Meta says it doesn't have access to the eye- and face-tracking data, which is encrypted locally on-device. However, it's unclear whether individual apps could find ways of using the data in other ways once permissions are given. It's new territory for consumer hardware, although commercial devices have dabbled in eye and face tracking for years.

The Quest Pro controllers are smaller, have better haptics and have their own tracking cameras. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET The Quest Pro controllers are smaller, have better haptics and have their own tracking cameras. Scott Stein/CNET

The controllers: Smaller and better, and work with Quest 2

The Pro controllers feel tiny, mostly because they ditch the plastic ring on the Quest Touch controllers. They feel more like remotes, or VR versions of the tinier Magic Leap controller. Similar to the Magic Leap 2 controller I tried earlier this year, they also have a new wrinkle: their own built-in cameras. It's weird, but it means they can do independent movement tracking without needing the headset's cameras. They seemed to work well both over my shoulders and behind my back.

An angled side of the controller has pressure sensitivity for pinching moves. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET An angled side of the controller has pressure sensitivity for pinching moves. Scott Stein/CNET

The haptic feedback in these new controllers is much better and more subtle. A few demos of various explosive pistols and toys showed how effects could reverberate in the controllers, similar to the PlayStation VR 2. Brushes filled with paint in Painting VR felt like they were rippling underneath my fingers, and when I wrote down things on a whiteboard I could feel the scratchy friction of the writing surface far more clearly. 

Speaking of writing, these controllers have a wild bonus -- stylus tips. Popping them into the base of the controllers turns them into chunky VR pens, which I tried out in Horizon Workrooms using the whiteboard mode (the Quest 2 controllers can work like this too, but the Quest Pro ones feel a lot more responsive).

Using the Quest Pro controller as a stylus, writing on a real desk. Meta © Provided by CNET Using the Quest Pro controller as a stylus, writing on a real desk. Meta

I almost missed an extra feature that one demo showed off -- there's a new pressure-based pinching control. A slanted side edge of the controllers, when pressed along with the triggers, can be squeezed at various pressures. I was able to pick up darts and throw them easily, pick up Jenga pieces and squeeze stress dolls.

Quest 2 owners will be able to buy the new controllers separately for $300. That's nearly the price of a whole Quest 2 headset, though. They're also rechargeable this time and can pop into an included charging dock for the Quest Pro that also charges the headset.

The Quest Pro, resting in its charge dock that also charges the controllers. Scott Stein/CNET © Provided by CNET The Quest Pro, resting in its charge dock that also charges the controllers. Scott Stein/CNET

Is this the future of VR or a stepping stone?

The Quest Pro feels like a refined, deluxe VR headset. But it also feels like an AR headset. As impressive as many of the demos were, I also wonder how a future Quest 3 will compare to it and when would be a good time to consider a Pro VR upgrade. As Meta makes moves toward future AR glasses, and other companies arrive to compete next year, it's hard to tell whether the Quest Pro is the best version of what's been available, or the first version of what's to come next.

Wed, 12 Oct 2022 03:25:23 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/meta-quest-pro-vr-headset-hands-on-what-241500-does-for-the-metaverse/ar-AA12Qu8h
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