As the coronavirus lingers on, continuously spreading from person to person across the world, companies are continuing to find fast and reliable ways to detect it as early as possible.
One such company isVocalis Health, which has been working on an AI-powered voice test app: VocalisCheck. In clinical studies, the system showed an 81.2 percent efficacy rate in detecting COVID-19, and all people had to do was count from 50 to 70.
The point of VocalisCheck is to work as an addition to current COVID-19 tests, and not to replace them. The hope is to minimize the strain and risk of infection on health workers at these facilities, as well as saving up the traditional tests for people with a higher risk of infection.
How VocalisCheck works
Running on a smartphone or a computer, VocalisCheck asks the user to count from 50 to 70. The captured audio is transferred into a visual representation of their voice, a spectrogram, which is made up of 512 different features in order to make its diagnosis.
This is when AI kicks in to compare the spectrogram to a composite image from the voice of people who've had COVID-19. Since April last year, Vocalis Health has been gathering public voice samples of people who have been infected with the virus for its system to function.
Then, in about a minute, the results show up. Following this, depending on the verdict, the user takes a traditional COVID-19 swab test to confirm the diagnosis.
The Israel-based team partnered with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) to run a pilot program of VocalisCheck, testing over 2,000 people who spoke a variety of languages, varying from English to Hindi. During the program, the tool proved extremely useful and accurate at picking up COVID-19.
"It’s important to remember VocalisCheck is not intended to replace PCR testing. It’s for screening, not diagnosing," Vocalis Health chief medical officer Dr. Shady Hassan told Voicebot.
Why this system is useful
The team at Vocalis Health also points out that this voice tool is especially useful for people who are asymptomatic, and who don't show up as infected with COVID-19 during regular swab tests.
It's looking like a useful tool to help keep medical workers and worldwide communities safe, and to increase the amount of testing required to keep work in public spaces open, and secure.
Other companies are looking into novel ways of testing for COVID-19, with a focus on early detection. For example, through a coin-sized wearable monitoring device, which certainly sounds more appealing than China's anal COVID-19 swab tests.