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CMU researcher says voice recognition can spot Covid-19 cough

CMU researcher says voice recognition can spot Covid-19 cough

At a time when alleged treatments for the novel coronavirus are multiplying like fungi in a Petri dish, it can be difficult to take at face value a report that voice recognition systems might be able to diagnose COVID-19. However, voices have been analyzed by biometrics algorithms in the past to diagnose injury and illness with some success.

The magazine Futurism is quoting a Carnegie Mellon University researcher as saying a team he was on has created a prototype biometrics application that can tell after they speak into a smartphone if someone has Covid-19.

The Covid-19 voice detector, reportedly live as of April 3, is not available now, as the site is “undergoing construction and [an] approval process.”

According to a report at Android Authority, users are prompted to cough several times, and recite several vowels and the alphabet. A score is displayed illustrating how likely you are to have Covid-19, as judged by the algorithm.

In fairness to the Carnegie Mellon research team, people using the algorithm when it re-emerges should be sure of only one thing. They will be training an algorithm to better identify the dry, repetitive cough that along with a fever of 100 degrees or above are the surest signs of illness.

The researcher said that the algorithm is “still highly experimental” and not approved by any U.S. government health agencies.

This is not a new avenue of thought.

The U.S. Army funded research into using voice recognition software to diagnose long-term battlefield illnesses and injuries including post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Researchers found that their algorithm found 18 telltale voice features indicating illness, and it was correct 89.1 percent of the time.

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