People are used to checking their phone to find out, say, what the weather will be like tomorrow, or when your bus is coming. But did you know that a phone could even tell you if you’re ill?
Maybe you’ve had to have a test for COVID, where a nurse sticks a cotton bud up your nose. It’s pretty unpleasant. And as we get the virus under control and we all start being able to go back to doing the things we used to, experts say we will probably have to go on doing lots of tests to make sure the bug doesn’t take off again.
People are working on all sorts of ways of checking quickly whether people have COVID – including all those people who carry the virus but aren’t sick. One solution is as simple as an app on a smartphone.
A company from Israel says its app, called VocalisCheck, can tell just from the sound of your voice whether or not you’ve got COVID. It’s most recent testing, they say, gets the right answer 4 times out of 5 – or 80%.
If you’ve got the virus, it changes your voice, even ever so slightly. The app works by comparing your voice as you speak into the phone with thousands of samples of other people talking in many languages. A computer programme using artificial intelligence picks out important signs in your voice and lets you know if it thinks you’re ill or well.
It’s still early days for this kind of technology and VocalisCheck still needs to be checked out itself by independent authorities. But it’s exciting – people are working on being able to use phone apps to check for all sorts of other diseases too. It gives a whole new meaning the phrase “call a doctor”!