The COVID-19 pandemic, undoubtedly, is the deadliest outbreak we’ve had in the last century. Containing it has been a great challenge to nations around the world. Governments unable to perform mass coronavirus testing —which is essential to monitor the spread of the disease, isolate infected individuals, and effectively “flatten the curve”— because of limited availability of testing kits, and media-spread panic have worsened the scenario. However, a research team of five at EPFL has developed an artificial intelligence-based app, cleverly named Coughvid, which listens to your coughing sounds and automatically screens COVID-19 from the comfort of people’s homes.
How does the app work?
This might sound an odd way to detect the virus and screen the infected but the idea is not new. Doctors have been practicing this; listening to patients’ cough, to diagnose whooping cough, asthma, and pneumonia. So, the app is just an extension in an AI-form.
The World Health Organization itself says the dry coughing—producing no mucus—is the distinguishing sign of the infection and was found in 67.7% of cases.
To get tested, you simply have to visit the web app (or can install the Android app once available), cough at it (safely), and upload the data. And through audio signal processing and machine learning techniques, an AI will evaluate and determine the cough based on the sound and displays the coronavirus result immediately.
David Atienza and his team from Embedded Systems Laboratory shares the fact that the app is completely non-invasive, free and anonymous, and moreover, it can also be pushed on a large scale as an alternative to the conventional swab testing. And yet, he stresses not to take the app as a substitute for a medical exam.
The Coughvid app is reported to have a 70% accuracy rate and is still in the training process of distinguishing between the coughs of healthy people, COVID-19-infected patients, and people with other kinds of respiratory ailments.
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