Researchers create app that detects COVID-19 by listening to you talk

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COVID-Voice-Detector
The COVID Voice Detector has the potential to be a real lifesaver.
Screenshot: Cult of Mac

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created an app that can detect COVID-19 simply by listening to you cough and talk.

The COVID Voice Detector analyzes voice recordings to detect signs of infection and is open to anyone who wants to use it. It’s the cheapest, most accessible method of testing so far — but it’s still “experimental” for now.

The news channels remind us on a daily basis that there aren’t enough COVID-19 tests to go around. In many countries, getting one is near-impossible if you don’t have symptoms severe enough to send you to the hospital.

There might be a simple solution that everyone can use. The COVID Voice Detector is an early example of an easy, affordable coronavirus indicator that could prove to be a lifesaver over time.

Testing for COVID-19 using your voice

“Our goal is to develop a voice-based testing system for COVID-19, that could potentially reach every person in the world,” the researchers explain.

The way it works is simple: The app prompts you to record a series of voice prompts and three coughs, and answer a few questions about your health. It then uses artificial intelligence to analyze the recordings and give you a score.

The whole process takes around five minutes. Your final score — a rating from 1 to 10 — tells you the likelihood of you carrying COVID-19 based on voice signatures. The higher the score, the higher the likelihood of infection.

The system also provides an assessment of your lung capacity where possible. It’s all completely free, and it’s available to anyone who wants to use it. But there are some things you should be aware of before you dive in.

Experimental for now

CMU researches are keen to point out that the COVID Voice Detector is experimental, and not a substitute for an actual medical test or examination. Its results should not be considered entirely accurate.

The hope is that the test will get better over time, and the greater the number of people who use it, the better its algorithm can be refined. Researchers urge people to to try it out — and to encourage friends and family to do the same.

The test is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but that may come later if the COVID Voice Detector ends up becoming an official public service.

Even in its current state, however, the test has the potential to save lives. Its results, albeit not perfect for now, could encourage those who are carrying COVID-19 asymptomatically to self-isolate and reduce its spread.

Try it out today

Signing up for the COVID Voice Detector is as simple as entering your name and email address, and creating a password. It should take you less than 10 minutes to do that and perform the test, so we urge you to try it out.