A New App Assesses Coronavirus Risk by the Sound of a Cough
Indian startup Salcit Technologies is launching an app this week that will use artificial intelligence to analyze the sound of a cough as a way of helping determine if someone is infected with the novel coronavirus. The app is called kAs, cough in Sanskrit, and is planned for a launch on Tuesday.
Questions and Coughing
kAs determines the likelihood that someone has COVID-19 by running them through the questionnaire created by the World Health Organization. But, once the questions about health risks and possible exposure and to people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, Salcit adds its own addition. Users cough into the microphone of their smartphone and the sound is sent along with the questions to be analyzed by artificial intelligence platform Swaasa. The results are put on a scale of 1 to 10 for risk based on the information.
Judging illness in general by listening to coughing is a standard medical technique, but the idea of doing so through a smartphone app is far from common. Salcit’s technology is based on the idea, however, and the company has a patent for analyzing risk based on cough sounds, so it’s the app is not sui generis. The company is talking with Indian health department leaders about the potential use of Salcit’s tech on a broader scale. India has already debuted a WhatsApp chatbot to help educate and screen people who may be infected.
Using sound to identify people infected with COVID-19 is also what Voca.ai wants to do, albeit in a different approach. The startup created the Corona Voice Detect program to collect ask people to record their voices for an eventual open-source dataset that could be used to create a voice test for the disease. Voica.ai is focused on a test using data from a large population, while Salcit is designing around individual coughing sounds, but the idea of applying AI to audio recordings for medical diagnoses is essentially the same.
The way that Salcit is going about creating its test is closer to the ones that healthcare organizations are designing using Microsoft templates or platforms provided by Orbita and Hyro. As the pandemic continues, it’s likely that there will be a lot of experiments in new ways to diagnose and treat the coronavirus. The cough test, even if it only works to narrow down the probability of infection, could be useful for medical providers who need triage tools so they can focus care on those who are most likely to be infected.