The eyes may be the windows on the soul, as the old saying goes, but it turns out that the voice may be an effective window on your physical body. Your spoken words may provide valuable data that can be used as a non-contact way to diagnose disease, even remotely over a telephone.
Beyond Verbal is a company in Israel that has been studying voice analysis. They have developed technology that can determine a person’s mood simply by listening to their speech patterns and tone of voice. Their researchers have studied more than 2 million voice samples from 170 different countries, and have developed a smartphone app called MoodCall that can track how you feel on phone calls: happy, sad, angry, or neutral. The company’s algorithms are actually capable of identifying 11 different mood groups, as well as varying levels of arousal or anger.
The exciting news, however, comes from the company’s work with the Mayo Clinic. They have conducted early research with cardiac patients and a control group, and found a biometric measurement in their speech — power spectrum density (PSD) — that correlates well with the presence or absence of coronary artery disease. If further research reinforces these findings, this could become a valuable tool for making a diagnosis over the phone when a patient calls to complain about chest pain.
I had a chance to speak with representatives of Beyond Verbal at CES 2017, and learned that they are also pursuing other possible medical uses for their technology. For example, they have identified biomarkers in speech that can identify individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. They also believe their system may be helpful in identifying children who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), both of which can be difficult to diagnose accurately.
Beyond Verbal is actively pursuing the scientific research necessary to prove whether or not these health and medical applications are valid. The early signs show that there is great potential for this technology, however, and it could be a powerful tool that could improve the practice of telemedicine.