SEAS students create apps to promote social awareness during COVID-19

January 11, 2021

During the Fall 2020 semester, SEAS students in APSC1001 (Introduction to Engineering for Undeclared Majors) created mobile apps and addressed social innovation potential related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Kartik Bulusu and his instruction team (Samantha Racan, Richard Sear, George Wang and Olivia Legault) trained the students to build apps using Thunkable, a visual programming environment for Android and iOS, during the eight-week course. The students’ final products—“Crowd Alert,” “Quarantine Quality,” and “COVerify”—are apps that raise awareness of several pandemic-related issues such as social distancing, emotional well-being during quarantine, teaching the CDC-guided hand washing method to children with special needs, and monitoring inactivity for adults working from home.

Crowd Alert demo from group 7

Crowd Alert: People gather in large groups, sometimes without even knowing and regardless of the current pandemic. The Crowd Alert app allows a user either to take or upload a photograph, uses Microsoft's cloud-based Computer Vision API, and provides an alert on whether social distancing is required or not. This app is geared to motivate people to limit gatherings and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Quarantine Quality demo from group 7

Quarantine Quality: Emotional and personal well-being issues during quarantine have become more widespread since the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. This app helps spread awareness of emotional well-being to college students. The app presents a simple quiz based on CDC guidelines to monitor daily personal and emotional well-being. Depending on low or high quarantine quality score is, the app then suggests CDC-based recommendations to improve the person’s quality of life during the quarantine period.

COVerify demo from group 1

COVerify: The correlation between spread of misinformation and rise in number of cases potentially contributes to the public health emergency. The COVerify app is a COVID-related misinformation verifier. The app compares weblinks with CDC and WHO sites to validate the source and suggest if the COVID-related information can be trusted or not.

The students voted “Crowd Alert,” by Lily Samoyan, Joachim Santiago, and Lucas Mah, as the Best Mobile App in the class. The instruction team selected “Quarantine Quality,” by Jack Brookshaw, Kaj Boeri, and Ben Chapman, for the Professor’s Choice Prize. The prizes were sponsored in-part by Thunkable, which will continue to collaborate with Dr. Bulusu in developing educational modules and social awareness apps. The apps are showcased on the course website and are available for testing by anyone who has a free Thunkable account.