Sonde Health Raises $19.25M for Voice-Based Illness Detection
Voice AI healthcare startup Sonde Health Vocal biomarker tech raised $19.25 million in a Series B funding round led by Partners Investment. Sonde has developed tools for spotting vocal biomarkers, signs of potential mental and physical health concerns based on a speaker’s voice using AI.
Sonde can measure subtle indicators of wellness, particularly respiratory and mental fitness. The startup’s AI is trained on health-labeled voice data with from over 1.2 million voice samples provided by 85,000 people, and uses audio signal processing and machine learning to screen for the relevant vocal biomarkers. Sonde began with a focus on respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, before widening its remit to mental health. Less than a minute’s worth of speech is all that’s needed for the AI to make a preliminary diagnosis of conditions like asthma, and depression. with additional health conditions undergoing development. The mental health tests are also available on iOS and Android with the Sonde Mental Fitness app.
Sonde’s AI can be embedded as an API or within a chipset for passive health monitoring, or active tests, and the startup has been working with telecom and healthcare companies to develop new tests and widen the use of its AI model. For instance, telecom giant KT plans to incorporate the vocal health tests as a passive addition to its voice assistant and call centers, as well as telemedicine services. Meanwhile, health technology developer GN Group is working to augment its hearing products with Sonde’s Mental Fitness tests, and Sonde is researching a vocal biomarker test for mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Sonde is also training its AI to screen voices for COPD on behalf of Koye Pharmaceuticals, as well as new mental health vocal biomarkers tests it can release for the Indian market.
“Digital biomarkers are becoming a mainstay in healthcare. Today’s healthcare companies are realizing how vocal biomarkers can engage people earlier in their health. The data and insights found in voice can power health monitoring and patient stratification so issues can become apparent well before a costly medical event occurs,” Sonde Health CEO David Liu said. “With voice and any listening device, accessible and effective health monitoring can be made available to the majority of the world.”
Sonde has raised $35.25 million from investors as interest in vocal biomarkers has risen to match onoging improvements in the technology. Mental health vocal biomarker startups are drawing plenty of investment. Kintsugi raised $20 million earlier this year, while Ellipsis Health has raised $30 million for its depression and anxiety voice test. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has also begun supporting research in the area, issuing a $1 million grant to TQIntelligence mental health vocal biomarker research on children and teenagers.