This Demo Explains Physical Distancing With Personalized Avatars.

We hope you stay at home. But when you spend so much time staring at your four walls, it’s hard to internalize the fact that exactly what you don’t do – dropping your kids to kindergarten, seeing your friends in the gym at work – is what really makes the difference. … This little demo from Laval University in Quebec might help: It illustrates how physical distancing works and literally puts a face (in fact, nine of them) into the process.

In essence, this is just an animation of two different scenarios: the spread of the disease, both with and without the use of remote sensing measures. Before you can watch it, you must set up an avatar that will represent you. You are then asked to create avatars for people you know or interact with in your community. I added a few family members that I can’t see: someone from the kindergarten, someone from the gym.

As the narrative explains what’s going on, the hexagons representing each person you create turn red (for severe cases) or pink (for softer ones). The demo is clearly not killing anyone, but the subtext is enough: we can observe how the disease spreads when everyone is on the same network, and then what happens when people break up into small islands with minimal interaction between them. As a bonus, there is also a visual explanation of the herd immunity we hope to achieve with the vaccine of the future (and what we already have for other vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and chickenpox). It only takes a few minutes to watch the demo, so take the time to study it or show it to a nearby child who loves creating Mii avatars but doesn’t understand why they can’t see their friends right now.


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