Recognition: Robert Triggs / Android Authority
- Researchers have developed a virtual virus that is transmitted between phones via Bluetooth.
- It responds to socially distancing guidelines just like the actual COVID virus.
- The technology will be used to more accurately assess the spread of COVID-19.
Working together, researchers from the University of Queensland, the University of Melbourne, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a “virtual virus” that can transmit between phones to mimic the spread of COVID-19.
The virus-like virtual tokens known as Safe Blues threads circulate and replicate between mobile devices using Bluetooth. They are also designed to respond to socially distancing guidelines in the same way as the actual virus.
How does it work?
According to the one in the Patterns journalThe virtual strands vary in their viral properties such as incubation times and levels of infectivity.
They are counted as active on each “infected” phone for a limited period of time. If the device is in the immediate vicinity of another device during this time, there is a possibility that the strand will spread to the neighboring device.
If the phone is in isolation, the strand is also unlikely to spread.
This virtual, Bluetooth-transmitting virus could potentially help further assess the transmission of COVID-19. The research paper notes that, unlike biological epidemics, the number of devices infected by each strain can be measured in real time.
“Safe Blues provides a solution for real-time population-level estimates of epidemic response to government policies and forecasts for the near future,” the paper says.
The researchers also developed an Android app for a planned campus experiment to test the program’s protocols and techniques. They say the technology can be used to train sophisticated machine learning models in estimating current and future SARS-CoV-2 infection numbers.