It’s easy to be worried when you cough these days — is it COVID-19, or are you just clearing your throat? You might get a clearer answer soon. MIT researchers have developed AI that can recognize forced coughing from people who have COVID-19, even if they’re otherwise asymptomatic. The trick was to develop a slew of neural networks that can distinguish subtle changes indicative of the novel coronavirus’ effects.
One neural network detects sounds associated with vocal strength. Another listens for emotional states that reflect a neurological decline, such as increased frustration or a “flat affect.” A third network, meanwhile, gauges changes in respiratory performance. Throw in an algorithm that checks for muscular degradation (that is, weaker coughs) and it provides a more complete picture of someone’s health.