MIT builds AI which can detect Covid-19 by listening to your coughNews
As Covid-19 picks up pace again, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised a method to detect whether a person has contracted the virus by analyzing the sound of their cough.
The tool uses neural networks that can figure out the subtle changes in a person’s cough that point out whether they are infected, even if they do not have any other symptoms.
Asymptomatic people infected with Covid-19 are a vector for the virus hence it is difficult to detect if they have contracted the virus because they show no symptoms and might infect others without even realizing it.
The difference between a healthy person’s cough and the cough of someone infected with the virus is so slight that it’s imperceptible to the human ear.
The team developed an AI to detect these minute differences using tens of thousands of recorded samples of coughs and spoken words which has been impeccable in early tests, recognizing 98.5% of coughs from people with confirmed Covid-19 cases, and 100% of coughs from asymptomatic people, reports Gizmodo.
MIT researchers explained how this works, one neural network gauges sounds associated with vocal cord strength, while another detects cues related to a person’s emotional state, such as frustration, which can produce a “flat affect.”
A third network listens for subtle changes in lung and respiratory performance. The team then combined all three models and overlaid them with an algorithm to detect muscular degradation.
However, the MIT scientists stressed that people should not use AI as a replacement for the Covid-19 test. They also stated that it was not built to diagnose people who are actively exhibiting covid-19 symptoms.
The new technology can still be very useful tool in detecting viruses and the team is reportedly working on developing a free app that can be used as a pre-screening tool for individuals who are not showing any symptoms.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have been working on a similar app called the COVID Voice Detector that would be able to determine whether someone has Covid-19 just by the sound of their voice.