Researchers at Bhopal's Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have developed a low cost AI-powered system that will monitor the movement of people on campus and send a pre-recorded message as an alert if social distancing norms are violated.

Aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, the 'Crowd and Mask' monitoring system will help in maintaining a minimum three-feet distance among students. As the institute begins the process of bringing students back on campus, the AI monitoring system will replicate manual policing, officials said.

''We wanted a simple advisory system to warn students breaching social distancing norms at selected locations. 'The innovators used the principles of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI-ML) in a high definition camera attached to a microchip computer and a 5V battery in a 3D printed case to monitor the movement of people in the campus,'' said P B Sujit, Associate Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, IISER Bhopal.

If the camera detects that the social distancing and mask norms were not being followed, the device starts alerting the crowd with a pre-recorded message, he said. ''The device was initially deployed at the campus in October last year and continuously improved till it became stable with minimum false alarms. As a result, people have become sensitive to the social distancing violation and are following the safety protocol with more caution,'' he added.

There are seven IISERs across the country. The innovators are planning to open source the complete system along with a how-to-use tutorial for the betterment of society in such disruptive COVID-19 times, officials said. ''Given the opportunity, this device can be deployed at various crowded public places to ensure that the basic safety rules are not violated in this tough time of COVID-19 pandemic,'' Sujit said.