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Coughs Say Much About Your Health, If Your Smartphone Is Listening


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Artist's representation of a cough.

The sound and frequency of coughs are rich with medical information, says Peter Small, a tuberculosis expert and chief medical officer of Hyfe Inc., a Delaware-based company with smartphone apps that use artificial intelligence to detect and track how frequently someone coughs.

Credit: Brian Stauffer

Many researchers are trying to train artificial intelligence (AI) to enable smartphones to analyze patterns in a person’s coughs, as a means of diagnosing and treating deadly respiratory diseases like tuberculosis (TB) and COVID-19.

Peter Small at acoustic AI developer Hyfe said a cough's sound and frequency contain valuable information, because coughs resulting from different diseases produce audible distinctions.

Hyfe and other developers of what Small calls acoustic epidemiology are compiling datasets and training AI to recognize the different types of coughs.

Hyfe offers free smartphone applications for consumers and researchers that use AI to detect and track how frequently someone coughs.

The apps operate continuously on a smartphone, recording half-second clips when the AI perceives a cough sound.

The University of California, San Francisco's Adithya Cattamanchi is using the researcher app to record coughs in several countries, as the first steps toward building a TB cough database.

From The Wall Street Journal
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