Coughvid app uses AI to detect COVID-19 from coughing sounds

JC Torres - Apr 10, 2020, 6:26 am CDT
Coughvid app uses AI to detect COVID-19 from coughing sounds

The COVID-10 pandemic has had many countries and health workers scrambling due to a lack of resources, both in terms of equipment but also in terms of health workers. In addition to the limited availability of testing kits, people conducting tests are already stretched thin as it is that many governments are offloading the screening of potential testing candidates to third-parties. Screening sites like Alphabet’s Verily have risen up to the occasion but one research team is testing a simple AI-based app to do what a doctor usually does at first: listening to your cough.

The app, cleverly named Coughvid, is a simple web app that can run on any web browser on any device that has a mic. The idea is really simple. You cough at it (in a safe way) and an AI will determine the type of cough you have and your chances of having been infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus.

It might sound like an odd way to test for the virus but it does have some data to back it up. The World Health Organization itself said that dry cough is one of the most telling signs of infection and was found in 67.7% of those who got the virus. Of course, it doesn’t take into account the other 32.3% as well as the asymptomatic cases but it is better than having no clue.

Coughvid is the project of Professor David Atienza and his team from École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne’s Embedded Systems Laboratory. The team is using AI to distinguish between different kinds of coughs the same way doctors listen to your cough. The idea is to help reduce the number of people going to doctors demanding for a test when they don’t exhibit the symptoms.

Although the app has been reported to have a 70% accuracy rate, it’s AI is still in the process of learning from more data sets as more people try it out. It also doesn’t take the place of a medical exam. Amusingly, the app also has instructions on how to properly and safely test your coughing, which means not coughing into your phone.

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