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Wearing a mask? There's an app for that

A new Indiana-developed app will track how many people are wearing masks and how many aren't.


The Regenstrief Institute launched last week, as a sort of public-health hybrid of Waze's crowdsourced traffic info and the functionality of Tinder. After logging in to the site, you swipe right when you see someone wearing a mask, or swipe left if they're not.


Regenstrief CEO Peter Embi says data about who's masking up has all been anecdotal. Instead of the decades-old practice of sending researchers out with a pad and pencil to count mask wearers, the institute realized it could use modern technology to bring more pairs of eyes to the question.


Embi says the data can help researchers assess whether mask orders actually change people's behavio, and how mask use correlates with rising or falling spread of the coronavirus. He says while the data are extremely preliminary so far, there's already one potentially intriguing finding: people appear more likely to wear their masks during the day than at night, perhaps because they let their guard down while socializing.


Embi says the app won't identify you or the people you pass, but it will log your location. You can see what percent of people are reported wearing masks within a two-block radius.


About 400 people in eight countries have signed up so far -- Embi says it'll be more effective the more people sign up.