WHO released data and analysis showing that we need mitigation and suppression to really get through this pandemic. While social distancing is an important preventive step, it also needs to be coupled with identifying and isolating all infected people through contact tracing.
However, Social distancing cannot be easily enforced without extensive policing. Currently, in the US, social distancing practices are only being promoted through social shaming and reinforcement through mainstream media.
And contact tracing, while necessary, has a very 'Big Brother' feel to it. Most apps either need users to share sensitive data (E.g. Bluetooth MAC IDs) or need a large number of users on the App.
These factors combined make the average millennial very hesitant to participate in contact tracing or social distancing.
What it does
Hermit heroes gamifies social distancing! Our mission is to engage and encourage users to build good habits and practice social distancing while building an organic contact trace network.
Users start out as 'Social butterflies' in this game. They are jet setting and instagramming around the world when they learn about the Covid-19 pandemic. While it may not affect them, their actions will affect 'Grandma Peach'. The objective of this game is to log socially responsible activities and completing challenges that promote social distancing.
- Each day users log in and see Grandma Peach's risk level. The goal to keep the risk level at the lowest possible level. - To keep Grandma healthy, users have to earn Toilet Paper rolls, which is the base currency of the game. - You can earn TP rolls by logging your daily activities, completing solo challenges or challenges with your virtual social cohort. Each activity has a different TP roll value: For e.g. Logging a home workout will earn you 10 TP rolls and binging on Netflix will earn you 2 TP rolls. - We also analyze the type of activities the user performs and have gentle suggestions for healthier(Mental & Physical) activities to keep you wholesome and healthy - Logging activities each day in their 'Pandemic Journal' gives users a way to review their achievements over time which is very needed as the days start blending in together. - Once you have enough TP rolls you can go to the Marketplace and exchange this for things to help Grandma Peach like a Vitamin C shot or hand sanitizer. - You can also share your progress and let you friends on Facebook know how much Toilet paper you earned! - Users are also required to log the people they have met or the places they have visited as part of their daily journals. These are self-reported and we give users the option to import location history from Goggle maps. - This way if you or your contacts test positive you know who needs to be contacted to spread the word and suppress any further transmission. This helps you do your part of fighting this pandemic. Users can choose to contact through their Facebook network or just download their data to share with local authorities. All in their control.
As users navigate through the game, completing challenges, earning TP rolls they transform from social butterflies and into Hermit heroes.
How we built it
Our team has 3 game content developers, a UX/UI designer, 2 Front end engineers, 1 Backend engineer, 1 Graphic designer and a Product Manager.
The prototypes have been sketched out in Figma and translated into a react app built and hosted in Firebase. We have modelled data retrieval APIs in Swagger to ensure we are capturing discrete and usable data elements to arrive at aggregated user behavior and insights during the quarantine.
Challenges we ran into
We had trouble spinning up quickly while getting the team together over the span of 2 days. The Facebook game integration also ran into authentication errors so we had to postpone the work for that. We made a conscious decision to stay away from any invasive technology until we earned our User's trust and even then only use it as the user's direct us to. This meant we had to base the activities on an honor system for the time being so we are designing some additional game loops that involve friends to let our users hold each other accountable.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
In 2 days we gathered a large team and got aligned towards the company mission. Each day we made product decisions that kept the ethos of positive reinforcement while not collecting invasive data. We do want to earn our user's trust before asking for adoption of Bluetooth LE tech(Only for verification of contact with others) so that users know we will not sell or submit their data without consent. We have received feedback from multiple teams that are looking to use our product as a fun teambuilding exercise as they work remotely and we believe we have solved an issue for these users.
What we learned
- Team work
- Game loop designs
- React on Firebase
What's next for Hermit Heroes!
- We want to analyze user behavior and adjust risks and rewards to guide them down the best path for the users' mental and physical health
- We want to collaborate with local business to offer coupons as rewards so that we can promote local economy
- We want to use Bluetooth technology to only record distance from other users but not record associated MAC addresses.
- We want to reward users with analysis on how their responsible activities have helped mitigate risk in their community
We are going to keep building this product up and give our users a way to have some fun and take a break from the anxiety around this event while promoting socially responsible behavior.
We are going live with a PWA in the next few weeks and will then iterate to native apps to take advantage of the additional functionality.
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