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Sonde Health trials voice biometrics COVID warning system

App compares six-second recording against 1 million vocal samples to detect symptoms of COVID-19


Voice biometrics firm Sonde Health will partner with the Xavier University Center for Population and Health to trial a new COVID-19 detection and screening solution. The company’s vocal biomarker platform will analyze voice samples to detect any respiratory changes that may signal an infection. The solution is envisioned to become an early warning tool to better protect public spaces, offices, and other facilities.

The trial will determine Sonde One’s accuracy and efficiency to provide a scalable detection platform for larger population settings. Xavier University and Sonde will conduct the study on a group of 125 volunteers who will record their voices each day while being quarantined. Once a person’s symptoms register on the system, the University will administer a COVID test.

Sonde CEO David Liu stated, “We’ve long known that the voice is a meaningful predictor of an individual’s health. Our collaboration and research with Xavier University examines whether we can scale that insight to protect public health during the pandemic.”

Biomarker will be implemented into the Sonde One health screening smartphone app and is designed to detect chest pain, coughing and, shortness of breath. The app relies on Sonde’s machine learning model which has been built on over 1 million human sound samples collected from over 80,000 individuals. The company promises that a six-second voice sample can yield up to 70 percent accuracy in detecting respiratory symptoms.

Sonde Health picked up a biometric dataset of 500,000 voice samples in its acquisition of NeuroLex Labs last year.

Dr. Victor Ronis-Tobin, Xavier University Center for Population Health interim director and principal research investigator lauded the program, “This is a great opportunity to evaluate population health tools and strategies to benefit the larger community through scientific rigor – in effect putting our mission into practice. This study will also help ensure that Xavier University is working to develop the best methods for providing the safest learning environment possible for our students, faculty, and staff.”

This partnership is the latest in a series of health screening initiatives run by Xavier University. The school has successfully protected the student body using surveillance, hybrid learning, contract tracing, and isolated housing and quarantine facilities.

“Healthy, college-aged students are likely to be among the last people to be vaccinated, so it’s important to continue looking for ways to enhance the protections for this group,” Dr. Ronis added. “If we can use Sonde’s vocal biomarker platform to contain the spread in a university setting, there are clear applications in workplaces, healthcare settings, and anywhere else that large groups congregate.”

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