An ‘ahhh-ha’ moment: Boston company creates new tool to spot symptoms of COVID-19

BOSTON (WHDH) - A Boston-based company has created a new tool to detect symptoms of COVID-19 — just by using the sound of the user’s voice.

Sonde Health launched a new smartphone app that could indicate illness through vocal biomarkers.

“We are looking at changes in your voice it is physiology when disease strikes your body and it comes in the form of symptoms,” CEO David Liu explained.

Liu said slight changes in vocal cues can signal larger health problems.

“If you can catch it early it’s all the difference in the world,” he said. “That can stop the spread that we’re seeing.”

Users must record a baseline measurement of their voice. From there, they will fill out a symptom questionnaire before saying “ahhh” into their smartphones for six seconds.

The software then analyzes the data for any changes.

“Voice is like any other marker that is emitted from the body. Different from blood or saliva but it is a marker that the body emits and it contains data and information about your health,” Liu said.

While the app is not able to diagnose illnesses, it can measure the user’s risk of infection.

“We’re not saying you have COVID. We cant say that,” Liu said. “What we’re really good at is identifying these respiratory symptoms and then giving you a risk analysis.”

Infectious Disease Specialist at Tufts Medical Center, Dr. Shira Doron, said any tool that has people monitoring their health is worth considering, but this technology needs more research to determine its effectiveness.

“It’s only really an initial step and we still need that testing capacity and that tracing capacity,” she said.

Sonde Health hopes employers will be able to use it to make sure people do not show up to work sick.

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