IISc Researchers Working on Tool for COVID-19 Diagnosis According to Cough, Speech Sounds

A team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, is working on an Instrument for Analysis of COVID-19 According to respiratory, cough, and Language sounds.

The instrument, once confirmed, will offer an evaluation that poses a minimal risk of exposure to the health care professional and will give the results faster than the current testing technique.

The eight-member team has called the project for speech and sound-based diagnostics”Coswara”, with a goal to detect and quantify biomarkers of this disease in the acoustics of those sounds.

According to the team, since the pandemic is growing in numbers, the maturation of simplistic, cost-effective and speedy testing for disease is now a vital component in health care, policy-making and economic revival of several countries.

“As the significant indicators of the disease include respiratory problems, the proposed project aims to discover and quantify the biomarkers of the disease from the acoustics of those sounds. The project requires participants to perform a recording of breathing noises, cough noises, sustained phonation of vowel sounds and also a counting exercise.

“In addition to these records, the tool also records the individual’s health status as well as age, location, and gender, without any personally identifiable information. The audio dataset collected will be published for researchers throughout the world to come up with a potential diagnostic tool with all signal processing and machine learning methods,” he added.

The project being supervised by IISc faculty member Sriram Ganapathy is in the data collection stage and will undergo an experimental validation prior to acquiring full approval as a potential diagnostic tool.

“Given the simplistic and cost-effective nature of this tool, we hypothesize that a partial victory for the instrument would allow a massive deployment as a first-line diagnostic tool for its pandemic. The project isn’t aimed to replace the compound testing or the imaging techniques but to supplement those with a cost-effective, fast and easy technique,” the researcher said.
“A real-time RT-PCR test is the most frequently deployed evaluation now for COVID-19 with testing results available after several hours. Typically, this test is carried out using a nasopharyngeal swab or a throat swab.

“The significant limitations of this testing which hinder the widespread installation of this procedure include breach of social distancing which raises the odds of infection to the subject, the vulnerability of the viral infection to healthcare employees, expenses involved with chemical testing and the time required for results with a growing population requiring the test,” he said.

Based on the Union Health Ministry, the death toll due to coronavirus rose to 377 while the Number of cases in the country climbed to 11,439 on Wednesday

While the number of active COVID-19 instances stood at 9,756, as numerous as 1305 people are discharged and treated, and one had migrated, it said. The total number of instances includes 76 foreign nationals.


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