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Virtual virus that transmits between phones developed to mimic COVID spread

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credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority

  • Researchers have developed a virtual virus that is transmitted between cell phones via Bluetooth.
  • It responds to social distancing guidelines in the same way as the real COVID virus.
  • This technique will be used to more accurately assess the spread of COVID-19.

As part of a joint effort, researchers at the University of Queensland, the University of Melbourne and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a “virtual virus” that can be transmitted over the phone to mimic the spread of COVID-19.

Virus-like virtual tokens called Safe Blues Strands use Bluetooth to circulate and replicate between mobile devices. It is also designed to respond to social distancing guidelines in the same way as a real virus.

So how does it work?

According to a research paper published in Pattern journal, Virtual strands have varying viral properties, such as incubation time and level of infection.

Each “infected” phone counts as active for a limited period of time. If the device is very close to another device during this time, there is a possibility that the strands will spread to adjacent devices.

Similarly, if the phone is isolated, the strands will not spread.

This virtual Bluetooth transmission virus could potentially help you more accurately assess the transmission of COVID-19. Research papers point out that unlike biological epidemics, the number of devices infected by each strand can be measured in real time.

“Safe Blues provides solutions for real-time population level estimation of pandemic responses to government guidelines and near-term forecasts.

Researchers have also developed Android apps for planned campus experiments to test the program’s protocols and technologies. They say this technique can be used to train sophisticated machine learning models that estimate the number of SARS-CoV-2 infections present and in the future.

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