Your voice could help diagnose disease, other issues through AI

CHARLOTTE — There is a technology using the sound of someone’s voice that could diagnose many issues, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

WSB spoke with Dr. Yael Bensoussan at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He is looking into Alzheimer’s and other diseases as co-leader of “Voice as a Biomarker for Health,” which is part of a four-year National Institutes of Health project.

“To develop a very large-scale database of human voices linked to other biomarkers of health,” he said.

Bensoussan and researchers at 11 other universities and hospitals will use an app to collect voice samples.

The voice samples will go through artificial intelligence analysis to identify signs of disease, such as slow speech. They’ll be used to diagnose and treat five categories: voice, neurological, respiratory, psychiatric and children’s speech disorders.

“Looking at specifically autism and speech delay,” Bensoussan said.

Bensoussan believes it’s a tool that will lead to earlier diagnoses.

Voice and AI created by TQIntelligence are used in the app to help children with mental health issues. Therapists collect information, including a child’s diagnosis, background and voice samples, to identify kids in crisis and treat them.

“We focus on three of the negative emotions in that, anger, fear and sadness,” said Dr. Yared Alemu, founder and CEO of TQIntelligence.

Alemu said that he hopes the app will help children become healthy and productive.

“You change the trajectory from maladaptive behavior, school dropout -- you can have a productive member of society,” Alemu said.

Roger Cochran was terrified after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago.

“I had this vision of what it meant to have Alzheimer’s, which was to be completely incompetent,” Cochran said.

His wife, Dorothy Merrick, started noticing small changes.

“I saw the memory loss in his social behavior of not wanting to come with me, maybe to some social functions,” she said.

A home-based counseling agency is currently using the app created by TQIntelligence, as well as 60 schools. It’s also used to monitor if patients are making progress in their treatment.

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