Phone app screens for COVID in 30 seconds
May 5, 2021
MILTON, Ont. – An Ontario-based medical start-up has co-developed a smartphone app capable of screening for COVID-19, and its variants in 30 seconds.
The initiative is being brought to Canada by VoiceHealth Inc, based in Milton, Ontario. They have partnered with Sonaphi, a California-based medical technology company and are also receiving support from the Innovation Factory, a not-for-profit accelerator located within McMaster University Innovation Park, to garner regulatory compliance and complete clinical trials to get the product to market.
“Voice recording analysis is very effective for population screening at a low cost,” said Dr. Blair Lamb (pictured), CEO and chief medical officer at VoiceHealth. “It requires no medical personnel, no travel, and can scale up for mass use.”
Dr. Lamb has authored over a dozen medical patents helping people recover from complex pain disorders and is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario Medical School. “The technology is capable of screening for COVID-19, from a 30-second recording with near instant results,” said David Levesque, Sonaphi’s CEO.
The software being used is called CheckUp. It analyzes voice recordings using machine learning to detect frequency abnormalities. The app’s accuracy is estimated to be about 80 percent for both sensitivity and specificity for COVID-19 and is expected to improve with use and more voice samples.
Traditional testing typically requires some form of sampling, a kit and a healthcare professional to assist in the testing.
In contrast, the CheckUp App could screen every Canadian, every day to deliver instant full daily population screening by looking for 50 biomarkers.
“We are thrilled to be supporting such innovative technology,” said David Carter, executive director of the Innovation Factory. “This could be a game changer to stopping this virus.”
The Mayo Clinic recently published a voiceprint analysis study for cardiovascular disease demonstrating high levels of diagnostic accuracy for predicting cardiovascular disease. Both Carnegie Mellon and MIT have reported COVID-19 detection using similar voice detection analytics.
“This app is exactly what is required to safely open schools, restaurants, hotels, workplaces, airlines or your local stadium to watch a baseball game,” said Dr. Lamb. As VoiceHealth seeks regulatory compliance, the firm is looking to expand both its public and private partnerships.