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piPACT : A BWSI Independent Project

For participants: We encourage you to continue in your studies and use this in upcoming science competitions!

For students just finding this, feel free to use this as a self-paced course, we will not be able to provide supplies but hope that you can use this in your science explorations.

Final Report Templates are here!

Word document                           PDF of file                Final Report Submission Guidelines




The BWSI 2020 piPACT Project will provide you an opportunity to explore the technology of Bluetooth and its application to proximity detection for COVID-19 Contact Tracing.   We are hoping that you will find this independent project exciting, and expect that there is a lot of knowledge that will be gained and shared among everyone.

The Primary tasks involved in this project are

  1. building a Raspberry Pi based Bluetooth signal collection platform,

  2. developing a hypothesis (or several) relating to this technology and application,

  3. collecting data using your equipment,

  4. programming processing algorithms that perform the proximity detection,

  5. writing a final report that explains your hypothesis, data, analysis and conclusions.

We are hoping that you will contribute data collections and your innovative solutions to the Private Automated Contact Tracing (PACT, https://pact.mit.edu/) consortium. The required/taught skills for this project are basic Python skills (satisfied by the “Python Like You Mean It” online course), basic computer literacy, ability to document experimental results in a disciplined fashion, and ability to conduct independent research/exploration based on broad directions.

Q&A recorded sessions are linked below or on YouTube channel

Final report information below and linked here! and in piazza forum

Check Piazza for an easy homework assignment: we'd like to see photos of your experimental setup or short videos of your testing!

Additional Articles on PACT

Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Signal Strength Estimation to Facilitate Contact Tracing for COVID-19

NIST TC4TL Challenge

Reading list from Introductory Seminar

Raspberry Pi OS Image, Raspberry Pi Setup, and Reference Code

We recommend you set up your Raspberry Pis first according to the instructions and then proceed to inspecting and exercising the reference code. We'll discuss this in more detail on 6/22 along with a live demo of how the collection software works.

Zoom, Piazza and Recorded Sessions:

Zoom for final event will be posted soon-

Student Piazza forum (no longer active)

Piazza forum:  https://piazza.com/mit/summer2020/bwsipact01/home 

Recorded Sessions:

We recorded seminars and Q&A’s where possible:   BWSI YouTube piPACT playlist

1st Session (6/15/20) : https://youtu.be/-ELTYl7gJX4

Please subscribe to our channel and get alerts when new videos are posted!



Q&A Sessions

6/15, Seminar recording Introduction to piPACT

by Dr. Ramamurthy Bhagavatula  Presentation pdf

Q&A Session: 1600 EDT

6/22, Seminar: 1230 EDT Abstract & Bio

        Dr. Zissman's Presentation and Video

       1600 EDT Q&A Session

Q&A Session: 1600 EDT

6/29, Seminar: 1230 EDT Dr. Louise Ivers (MGH); 

Live Only (will not be recorded)

 Q&A Session: 1600 EDT

7/6, Seminar: 1230 EDT, Joel Linsky, Vice President of Technology at Qualcomm, Inc.

1600 EDT: Detection Theory Slides & Video

 Q & A session,

7/13, Seminar: 1230 EDT, Dr. Emily Shen, MIT LL (Not recorded)

Q&A Session: 1600 EDT (Text)  (Link to video)


Final Report Discussion

  Final Report Submission Guidelines

2020 Schedule run concurrently with BWSI program

Certificate of Completion

  • All students who submit a satisfactory final submission will receive a certificate of completion
    • "Satisfactory" is qualified as containing all requested parts and content and showing good faith effort
    • No comparisons will be made between students with regards to meeting this threshold
  • Up to 10 projects will be awarded "Best of piPACT" plaques
    • These will be selected according to best overall quality, innovativeness/creativity, and rigor
  • Presentation option:
    • Up to 4 students will give presentations (powerpoint or similar) on their project
    • These students will be selected on the basis of the quality of their overall project as conveyed in their final submission
    • They will be notified by 1800 EDT July 28
    • Selected students must confirm their interest/willingness to present by 1200 EDT July 29
    • Confirmed students must provide their presentation materials (slides) to BWSI staff by 2100 EDT July 30 to ensure appropriateness

Supplies Required for Participation in piPACT

The following are items that participants will need to provide themselves in order to participate in this project:

  • 1x HDMI compatible display
  • 1x USB keyboard; wired preferred
  • 1x USB mouse wired preferred
  • 1x Laptop/desktop with WiFi (802.11 ac/n)
  • 1x home WiFi (802.11 ac/n) network (Raspberry Pi boards will connect to this network)
  • 2x power extension cords
  • GitHub account
  • Google account

The following items were provided by BWSI to participants in this project, and are needed to complete the project.

  • 1x HDMI (display to Pi) cable
  • 2x Raspberry Pi Model 4 B 2GB
  • 2x Raspberry Pi 15.3W USB-C Power Supplies
  • 2x SanDisk 16GB MicroSD Cards

Extra sensors/equipment: As an independent project, students are encouraged to hack their setup, try new things/approaches/algorithms and let us know the results!

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