A new startup collects samples from patients with COVID-19 on the Internet, hoping to find markers of coronavirus, writes Business Insider.
In the fight against coronavirus enter modern IT-technology. So, a team of researchers from Harvard and mit began to teach artificial intelligence to diagnose the coronavirus according to the vibrations of the voice. The same startup also launched in Israel in cooperation with the administration of the Ministry of defence for the development of weapons and technological infrastructure.
The experts have collected records of thousands of votes of patients with COVID-19 and healthy people to determine the markers that indicate the presence of changes in the lungs.
Studies are in the early stages, but the creators of the project believe that soon the new app will be an additional tool in the fight against the pandemic. Of course, the app does not replace a full test, but people who do not have the ability to quickly checked for COVID-19, will hear recommendations on isolation and may not continue to infect others.
“If we can prove that it works, it will become simple tools for businesses when they’re open. People can just tell the device and the device can alert them if something is wrong,” researcher Rita Singh.
A team of researchers from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of technology uses voice audio data provided by the Israeli start-up Voca.ai.
Co-founder of Voca.ai and its technical Director, Alan Becker told how they managed to get the data. Their team has created a website where volunteers were left to record your voice: of these, 100 people were infected with coronavirus, and another several thousand — was completely healthy.
To decrypt the records used technology called “tussiphonography” is a diagnostic tool used to identify the presence of respiratory diseases by fixing the tones of coughing and wheezing.
The idea of using this method the researchers were inspired by information from doctors who are convinced that COVID-19 has a unique effect on the patients breathing , their coughing, and, as a consequence, speech.
After registration in the service user is asked to perform simple actions: to cough three times, to pronounce the alphabet and hold a vowel sound for as long as possible. The latter allows to estimate the lung capacity. The obtained data are compared with the sound samples of people who definitely have been infected with the coronavirus. The system is called COVID Voice Detector and its functionality can be found here.
On the website the user is asked to enter demographic information: height, weight, age, presence of symptoms.
The process takes about five minutes, after which, in the first version of the site, the user receives a score from 1 to 10 for signs of Covid-19.
Although the early studies were impressive, the team of enthusiasts had to face ethical challenges. At the start the creators of the project asked users to sign an agreement that they understand that the online test is not a medical diagnosis of coronavirus. Despite this, 48 hours after launch, the Carnegie Mellon University was required to remove this online test, because the recommendations might be misinterpreted by the user, despite the warning in the agreement of use of the resource.
“This is quite a reasonable request, and my team didn’t think about that ethical side of things,” said Rita Singh. “On the other hand, the pandemic COVID will take place and, we hope, will never return. But if we do not receive data now, we will never have the information for study!”.
“Screening for COVID-19 using voice recordings is a promising project, especially considering the fact how easy it is to collect data, while maintaining social distancing. [But] we simply do not have enough information to understand the diversity of symptoms and changes that occur when people are infected,” says Satrājit Ghosh, Professor at mit and Harvard.
As previously wrote ForumDaily:
Treatment COVID-19: what is needed and how to operate the ventilators
Scientists call unexpected symptoms latent form of the coronavirus
It’s in the genes: scientists have discovered why men are more likely to get sick and die from COVID-19
Is it possible to treat COVID-19 by transfusion of plasma and how it is obtained