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This App Promises To Tell If You Have COVID Symptoms, Just By Making You Count Loudly

There is a new app for the Apple iPhone and the Android phones that promises to help you with a positive or negative result for the COVID virus, just by hearing your voice. What the app, VocalisCheck, basically does is it asks you to loudly count from 50 to 70 while that audio is recorded on your phone. The audio map is transformed into a spectrogram which looks a lot like a heat image, which is then compared with heat maps from the audio of COVID patients and you get a result. The app has been developed by Vocalis Health, an Israeli tech company, that is relying on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to match the characteristics your voice to the database of samples already in place, to identify how much of a risk you are at.

Interestingly enough, this app has also been tested in India and returned with a greater than 80% accuracy rate. In February this year, Vocalis Health had conducted a clinical study jointly with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) at their NESCO COVID-19 Center. The study included 2000 participants who recorded audio samples in English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati, and the results returned with an accuracy rate of 81.2 percent. “PCR testing is being used to screen for COVID-19, which is an extremely expensive, resource-intensive and time-consuming approach. Instead of misusing PCR testing for screening, utilizing a highly scalable screening tool like VocalisCheck can fill a significant gap in the current approach to COVID screening, with the ability to effectively funnel those with high risk of infection to the appropriate diagnostic test,” Dr. Shady Hassan, Co-Founder, Chief Operating and Medical Officer of Vocalis Health, had said at the time.

Vocalis Health says that voice is the first line of defense against the COVID virus. All it needs is a single voice sample of you loudly and clearly counting from 50 to 70. This audio file is then uploaded for cloud-based analytics which provides the results in less than a couple of minutes. “We are building a wide array of vocal biomarkers with over 1 million voice data points in our database. Analyzing these data sets, Vocalis Health is identifying disease-specific vocal biomarkers to go through various validations,” says the company. The AI algorithms are designed to extract 512 different features from a voice sample, which are then matched on the cloud. For COVID detection specifically, the algorithms need to identify for symptoms such as shortness of breath, headaches and fever, which your voice sample may be able to hint at.

Unfortunately, you may not be able to get your hands on the testing process of the VocalisCheck app anytime soon. News18 was independently able to verify that the app for Android phones downloaded from the Play Store requires a pre-registered login ID and password to be able to use the app while the app for iPhone downloaded from the App Store isn’t working as expected and crashes at loading time. The solution is primed for deployment by businesses and offices that may be resuming normalcy in operations with employees returning to work. Vocalis Health says that the employers can send regular check-in alerts to employees before they leave their home, use their voice to submit a sample and quickly get a result. Most screening methods in offices, such as using contactless temperature guns, can be rendered ineffective in preventing the spread of the virus because it may take as long as 2 weeks for the symptoms to show for a patient. This app may just be very relevant at this time, with many countries including India witnessing a spike on COVID cases, again.

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