New app uses AI to diagnose illness connected to cough

Symptoms of Covid and TB can be detected

The free Hyfe app has a library of up to a million coughs to decipher illness. (Picture posed)

Laura Lynott

A new app uses artificial intelligence and a library of up to a million coughs to potentially decipher illnesses, including Covid-19 and tuberculosis.

The Hyfe app allows users to cough into their mobile phone microphone and artificial intelligence uses a library of up to one million types of coughs to make an estimated diagnosis.

The tech cannot replace a doctor or diagnostic tools to properly diagnose and treat patients. But co-founder of Hyfe Joe Brew believes the tech has the potential to prevent Covid-19 and TB outbreaks.

The technology reads people’s coughs, alerting them if they need to get medical care, or be tested.

Mr Brew told the Irish Independent that they were working on the technology when the pandemic hit.

“In general it’s very hard to keep track of coughing. In some of our studies, people that professed to be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic for Covid, turned out to have symptoms,” he said.

“They were coughing for several days and didn’t notice. Our hypothesis is that coughs really matter and if you know when you cough, or what it could be an indicator of, you can do something about it.”

The free-to-download app offers an option to track coughs through the day, week, month, or year.

Users can monitor a loved one’s cough and can grant permission to share cough data. The user coughs into their phone microphone and the app analyses their cough, telling them if they may have symptoms for an illness.

The plan is the user then alerts their doctor and has a record of coughing. “The idea of acoustic epidemiology is nothing new. Practitioners have been doing it for many years.

“They ask you to describe a cough and assess is it dry or forced? I believe acoustic coughing is going to become a very important tech. People will measure their coughs and track their coughs, to monitor their health.

“People never used to monitor how many steps they took each day, but now that is something a lot of people do to monitor their health.”