by Mari Chakryan, Local Correspondent from Armenia
Creative minds were boosted in Armenia along with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering that time is the most valuable resource and with a focus on protecting human health, Earlyone team adapted its innovative customer flow management system to work with hospitals. To prevent queues, they offered an online queue management system to regulate flows and even a possibility to make an appointment with a doctor in advance.
The team of Van Technologies company acted to address the needs of citizens who were impatient to go back to work in their offices. Young integration engineers studied the technologies available in the world, and soon developed an AI thermometer that can detect and distinguish between citizens who do not wear masks and have a high body temperature.
According to the project manager of the company Aleksander Khachaturov, the system was first offered to the Government and their customers. The first five samples were sold immediately. Now they are waiting for the Government grant to start serial production. For instance, if smart thermometers are installed throughout the city, such epidemics can be controlled through a database collected from the network.
The LiveBoard tool developed by the young minds of “INCONCEPT LAB” for remote discussion of issues within the team back in 2016 received a new breath of life and became widespread. Prior to the pandemic, it served as a tutoring tool for a very limited number of tutors. According to LiveBoard co-founder Tigran Barseghyan, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of LiveBoard downloads reached 1 million. The number of users is still growing, and the geography is expanding. Although the number of active users in Armenia is not large, it is widely used in the United States, Italy, Spain, Germany, as well as in India. Liveboard is suitable mainly for making mathematical drawings and preparing questions, but it is also used in teaching humanities. Despite having large and small competitors, it is one of the best mobile applications providing close collaboration between students and teachers, especially given the circumstance that schools are closed.
In addition to contributing to artificial intelligence ventures, the coronavirus pandemic has also boosted the creativity of the makers of traditional board games. The team members of Hayk Mkrtchyan, founder of “Dee khagha” (“Go, play”) board games, got very bored sitting at home during the pandemic. As a result of online effort, “Droshapolis” (“Flagopolis”) was born.
“We were sitting at home and realizing that we should increase sales, we should move forward. We had been thinking of creating a game on the topic of geography for a long time. We discussed 3 options and decided to create the Droshapolis,” says Hayk with sparkling eyes and confesses that the game recorded an unexpected boom in sales. They have already reprinted it several times.
By playing the game, children quickly learn names of countries and their capitals, as well as interesting details about countries. But parents also loved the game, and it became a family game. Encouraged by positive feedback, the team decided to create a new, simple, and fun family board game named Blitz, which also became very popular. But Droshapolis could be played with friends online, and Blitz requires live communication. In addition to the game, the team began to produce colored socks as a symbol of freedom.
COVID-boosted creativity did not bypass Lusine, who is always involved in educational, anthropological and political research. Who would think that ethnographer, cultural anthropologist Lusine Kharatyan would one day organize an exhibition of her photos? “When COVID started, I had free time, and started cooking delicious dishes. One day I took a photo of a cookie made with cherries from our garden and shared it. There were so many interesting reactions to it that I decided to make a series to alleviate the pandemic-caused shelter-like situation in the houses.”
The dishes lost in dust in the basement for years received a new breath of life… People started talking in the comments section of the photos, sending gifts, hoping to see their gift in the next morning photo. This became a “coronavirus-style” means of communication when you do not see people and they send you so much warmth. Thus, Lusine began to change the mood of the people, and this turned into an album and eventually into an exhibition entitled “Isolator N1“.
The young authors of the ForgeFiction project took the initiative to unite those isolated because of the coronavirus. The Quarantine Fiction startup was launched.
ForgeFiction was launched in 2019. It is an online platform where people write a book together, decide what it is going to be about, what course shall it take, how it shall end. The goal of Quarantine Fiction was to give people the opportunity to share short stories, both about the coronavirus and any other topic that would come to their mind in isolation, thus helping to overcome stress.
According to the co-founder of the project Areg Vardanyan, during the quarantine period all the stories were available for people to read and keep in mind that they are not alone, there are others like them, that they are connected to each other, more than ever united around one problem.
Coronavirus stories collected from English-speaking countries around the world have been put together in one book, which is sold online at https://www.amazon.com , and the proceeds go to the Save the Children Foundation.
This is how COVID-19 in Armenia not only forced people to use their imagination, but also unite people around the world.
This article was produced by Mari Chakryan, the Project’s local correspondent and EaP Civil Society Fellow from Armenia in the framework of the EU-funded ‘Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility – Regional Actions’ Project. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Mari Chakryan and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the Project.
Read more about our local correspondents here.