AI Algorithm Detects Virus with Your Cough

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The global health crisis has changed every aspect of our lives – personally and professionally. It’s taking over technology as well, with a need for tech to help detect and treat the virus. An AI algorithm has been developed that will detect the virus with your cough, possibly on your smartphone.

AI Research

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed the AI algorithm that will use your cough to detect whether you have the virus.

The research involved analyzing tens of thousands of audio samples of people’s coughs. Twenty-five hundred recordings came from people who were confirmed to have the virus at that time.

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The data was gathered and used to create an AI algorithm that the researchers claim will identify whether someone has the virus, regardless of whether they had a cough or other symptoms.

When the algorithm was tested on people who had already been diagnosed with the virus, it had a 98.5 percent success rate. The success rate advanced to 100 percent amongst the asymptomatic group.

What the MIT researchers were working off of was the knowledge that the cough of a healthy person and that of someone infected with the virus is different. That difference is subtle enough that it can’t be detected by the human ear. However, AI can detect that difference with accuracy.

Putting the AI Algorithm to Use

This AI algorithm could be used in a mobile app to detect the virus with your cough if it passes inspection by the Food and Drug Administration. It could change the health crisis story dramatically, as people would be able to be tested more quickly, safely, and less invasively. It could be done by anyone at any time.

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The MIT researchers said, “AI techniques can produce a free, non-invasive, real-time, any-time, instantly distributable, large-scale COVID-19 asymptomatic screening tool to augment current approaches in containing the spread of COVID-19.”

The team added, “Practical use cases could be for daily screening of students, workers, and public, as schools, jobs, and transport reopen, or for pool testing to quickly alert of outbreaks in groups.”

The MIT researchers aren’t the only ones working on this technology. Researchers with Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania and Cambridge University in the UK are working on similar projects.

Taking it in a slightly different direction, researchers have also been training dogs to detect the virus by smell. Many times they are able to detect it even in asymptomatic people. Read on to find out how artificial intelligence was being trained to detect smells months before the global health crisis.

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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