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COVID-19: IIT-Tirupati students develop game to spread awareness about coronavirus

The game is set in a city where the player has to go out of the house to buy groceries and medicines, all while maintaining social distancing from infected objects and people, as well as collecting PPEs including masks and sanitisers.

Written by Shyna Kalra | New Delhi |
Updated: May 1, 2020 4:49:40 pm
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Two students from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Tirupati — Dheeraj Vagavolu and Akhila Sri Manasa Venigalla — have developed a game ‘Survivor COVID-19’, which aims to raise awareness on coronavirus as well as beat boredom during lockdown. While Dheeraj is a third-year BTech student, Akhila is pursuing PhD from the institute. The duo was mentored by academician Sridhar Chimalakonda.

The game is set in a city where a player has to step out of their home to buy groceries and medicines, all while maintaining social distancing with their other virtual counterparts. Outside the home, players have to dodge infected people and virus-infected objects they encounter. They also have to collect personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks and sanitisers without which their health will deteriorate. Once infected, the player will be “hospitalised” or even “killed” within the game if proper healthcare guidelines are not followed.

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The game is available as a mobile-based app and in a web version. Till last week, it had recorded over 800 sessions. To gauge awareness created through the game, the institute is also conducting a survey. Meanwhile, the team is in the process of developing it further to make it a multi-level and multi-player game. It was created in three days at Research in Intelligent Software & Human Analytics (RISHA) lab in the institute.

covid, latest mobile games, iit tirupati innovation, The game is available as a mobile-based app and in web-version

The team has also written a research paper on ‘human-computer interaction’ based on the game and its impact on people. Prof Chimalakonda informed that the game has received positive feedback and they have been approached by a US-based firm to develop it further, along with the offer of a grant.

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Considering mobiles are the key mode of communication, especially among the youth, the IIT aims to raise awareness in an educational yet entertaining manner. “The younger generations spend considerably more time on mobile phones and games. However, there are very few mobile applications or games, aimed to bring awareness about a pandemic, which is much lesser in the case of Covid-19. Also, considering the lockdown scenario across the world, games also act as a good pass time indoors. Hence, we propose a 2D survival-based game, SurviveCovid-19, aimed to educate people about safety precautions to be taken for Covid-19 outside their homes,” the research paper filled by the team read.

Among other innovations to fight the pandemic, the institute has developed the prototype of a mask using 3D printing. The mask is antimicrobial and N95 compatible. It has also designed a portable optical cavity sterlisation unit (POCSU) and is working on its prototype. Further, the institute has launched a website to verify news and information related to coronavirus aiming to curb the spread of misinformation.

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