Slang Labs

Track Coronavirus Outbreaks by Voice on a New Digital Dashboard

Indian voice tech startup Slang Labs has created a voice-enabled tool for tracking COVID-19 outbreaks in India by region. The digital dashboard collates crowdsourced information on where the novel coronavirus has been diagnosed in the country to create a heat map that people can explore by voice in English and Hindi.

Voice Augmentation

Slang Labs was founded in 2017 to help software developers integrate voice into their apps and websites. The dashboard applies Slang Labs’ existing technology, just in a different context. The Slang Labs tech makes it possible for people to request in Hindi and English the answers about active, confirmed, and recovered cases of COVID-19 by state or for the whole country. The AI can also answer questions about where the most cases are, how many new ones have been confirmed, and related information.

To build the dashboard, Slang Labs pulled open-source data from the larger India COVID-19 Tracker. The information used in both cases is collected from official announcements and state bulletins and stored and updated on GitHub. Volunteers confirm the numbers and regularly update a Google spreadsheet and API. While the project uses official sources, it makes clear that the project is unofficial and not created by the Indian health ministry. It does correlate with the numbers released by the Indian government, however. Slang Labs, in turn, has shared the details on how it built its dashboard on GitHub as well.

Pandemic Voice Help

Voice technology developers are finding many ways to bring their talents to bear on the pandemic. Enterprise voice assistant developer and Carnegie Mellon University are collaborating on a potential audio test for potential COVID-19 infection using publicly sourced and shared data to analyze the probability of a user’s infection by examining the sound of their voice and cough. That’s similar to what another Indian startup, Salcit Technologies, is doing with its kAs app.

The value of the dashboard built by Slang Labs ultimately depends on the quality of data in the bigger tracking project. But, if the creators and curators of that project are as careful as they claim, then the dashboard is a very useful way to provide information to people, especially those looking for answers to a specific question or who may not be conversant in understanding the charts and graphs derived from the data. The caveats about accuracy are important. Misinformation and false rumors about the coronavirus have already led to Google and Amazon pulling any voice apps mentioning the virus from their respective marketplaces, and prompted the UK, India, Estonia, and other governments to design their own chatbots to combat erroneous stories. With trustworthy sources, Slang Labs’ dashboard might be a positive solution to sharing that information with the public.


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