Creative responses to the COVID-19 crisis from the Media Lab community

by Chia Evers

March 23, 2020

Across the Media Lab community, spinoffs, alumni, researchers, staff members, and more have responded to the COVID-19 crisis with strength, creativity, and good humor. Below, you'll find a sampling of their projects, from the practical to the whimsical. We couldn't be more proud of them all.

Spinoff Formlabs is working with health systems, government agencies, and a network of more than 1,500 volunteers to help design, prototype, and produce parts to be tested and potentially adopted by clinicians.

Spinoff OPT Industries, founded by Tangible Media alum Jifei Ou, is  prototyping nasopharyngeal swabs based on Cilllia, a method of 3D printing hair-like fibers that Jifei developed as a student at the Lab.  

Spinoff adafruit is working with state and local governments in New York to provide electronic components and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Spinoff CW&T has joined Helpful Engineering to produce open source hardware for healthcare applications, and is also shipping a limited quantify of free jump ropes to help people stay home and stay healthy!

SoapCam, by Ariel Noyman, encourages proper hand-washing, per the Center for Disease Control's guidelines, using computer vision and audio/visual cues. 

Research scientist Dan Novy, who was a visual effects technical supervisor before coming to the Lab, is creating a new virtual background for Zoom every day.

Yuko Barnaby, meanwhile, is taking virtual meetings in a familiar Media Lab conference room.


Yuko Barnaby

Many members of the Media Lab community have set up lab spaces at home—you'll find lots of examples in the #homelab Story highlight on the Media Lab's Instagram profile!

And the Scratch team has pitched in to help us stay active while we stay home.

Mitch Resnick has used Scratch to help users understand how and why social distancing can "flatten the curve" of an epidemic. (Also see Mitch's 10 tips for cultivating creativity.)

While former research scientist Ira Winder developed an interactive simulation of a novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in a hypothetical city—download the simulator and try it yourself!

Joe Paradiso worked with NeCSys to set up a video feed from inside the building, to help us feel connected to the place we've all spent so much time.

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