Artificial intelligence will diagnose COVID-19 by the sound of a voice
A new startup is collecting voice samples from patients with COVID-19 on the Internet in the hope of finding markers of coronavirus, writes Business Insider.
Modern IT technologies enter the fight against coronavirus. So, a team of researchers from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology began to train artificial intelligence to diagnose coronavirus by voice vibrations. A similar startup was also launched in Israel in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense administration for the development of weapons and technological infrastructure.
Experts collected thousands of votes from patients with COVID-19 and healthy people to identify markers indicating changes in the lungs.
Research is in its early stages, but the creators of the project believe that soon the new application will become an additional tool in the fight against a pandemic. Naturally, the application will not replace a full-fledged test, but people who do not have the opportunity to quickly test on COVID-19 will hear recommendations about self-isolation and, perhaps, will not further infect others.
“If we can prove that it works, then when businesses open, it will become a simple tool for them. People can simply speak to the device, and it will warn them if something is wrong, ”Rita Singh explained.
A team of researchers from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology uses voice audio data provided by Israeli startup Voca.ai.
Voca.ai co-founder and CTO Alan Becker explained how they managed to get this data. Their team created a site on which volunteers left recordings of their voices: 100 of them were infected with the coronavirus, and several thousand were completely healthy.
To decipher the recordings, the technology "tussiphonography" was used - this is a diagnostic tool that allows you to determine the presence of respiratory tract diseases by fixing the tones of coughing and wheezing.
The idea of using this method was inspired by researchers from doctors who are convinced that COVID-19 has a unique effect on the breathing of patients, their cough and, as a result, speech.
After registering in the user’s service, they are asked to perform simple actions: cough three times, pronounce the alphabet and hold the vowel sound for as long as possible. The latter allows us to evaluate lung capacity. The data obtained are compared with samples of sounds of people who were definitely infected with a coronavirus. The system is called COVID Voice Detector, its functionality can be found here.
The user’s site is asked to enter demographic data: height, weight, age, symptoms.
The process takes about five minutes, after which, in the first version of the site, the user received a rating of 1 to 10 for signs of Covid-19.
Although the early research turned out to be impressive, a team of enthusiasts had to face ethical challenges. At the very start, the creators of the project asked the site users to sign an agreement on what they understand: an online test is not a medical diagnosis of coronavirus. Despite this, 48 hours after the launch, Carnegie Mellon University demanded to remove this online test, because the recommendations could be misinterpreted by users, despite the warning in the agreement to use the resource.
“This is a legitimate demand, and my team did not think about this ethical side,” said Rita Singh. - On the other hand, the COVID pandemic will pass and hopefully never return. But if we don't get the data now, we will never have the information to research! "
“Screening for COVID-19 using voice recordings is a promising project, especially given how easy it is to collect data while maintaining social distancing. [But] we just don't have enough information yet to understand the variety of symptoms and changes that occur when a person is infected, ”says Satrajit Ghosh, a professor at MIT and Harvard.
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