Eleven months after COVID-19 shutdowns first took place, local innovators are still working on ways to improve community health and safety.
From tracking apps to cleaning drones to video game development, we’ve heard from many entrepreneurs over the course of the year who have pivoted to help fight COVID. We spoke with a few who are bringing unique approaches to detect, test, or vaccinate against the ongoing pandemic.
We’re all well-aware of the physical symptoms people experience after the onset of COVID, but a Georgia Tech professor is looking at how voice data can help determine if someone has been infected.
Bruce Walker is CEO / Chief Research Officer of BRAVE Innovations LLC and professor of Psychology and Computing at Georgia Tech. BRAVE is leveraging advanced AI solutions to look at vocal patterns in those with COVID.
“Infections affect many systems in your body, including your lungs, vocal cords, and even neural signals from your brain. All these systems are involved in speech, so COVID can affect your voice in specific ways,” Walker told Hypepotamus. “Detecting those subtle voice changes can identify who may have contracted the infection.”
In partnership with The Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory (ABiL Labs), BRAVE Innovations is currently collecting voice samples to help further hone its voice detection algorithm.
Walker told Hypepotamus that both AI and voice analysis have been used to detect short-term infections as well as longer-term conditions like Parkinson’s Disease.
“We already have an algorithm that can determine if someone does or does not have COVID, but we need to collect a lot more voice samples to generalize and validate the algorithms, so we can provide a screening tool for schools, churches, communities, etc.”
Those interested in participating can take 30 seconds to share a voice sample at COVIDvoice.net.
Wellness 4 Humanity’s Test Vending Machines
While the focus in early 2021 has shifted to mass vaccination efforts, it is still important for those worried about potential exposure to COVID-19 to find rapid testing facilities. Unfortunately, that can still lead to a lot of Googling and calling around to find a place.
Wellness For Humanity, with roots in Atlanta and Houston, has been working on COVID testing for corporations, events, and the general travel industry.
Their new rollout of vending machines, stocked with saliva RT-PCR tests, is their latest way to streamline how people get tested.
Lian Nguyen Pham, CEO and co-founder of Wellness 4 Humanity, told Hypepotamus that the “vending machine model has helped provide Americans with easier access to PPE like masks and gloves, so we started thinking, “Why not use this model to make testing more accessible?”
Pham says that their goal is to have 1,000 vending machines around the country over the next few months, particularly at public subway stations, hotels, airports, music and entertainment venues, university campuses, grocery stores, and shopping malls.
The vending machines are also to be found around the Buckhead community of Atlanta in the next several weeks, according to CBS46.
Georgia Vax App
Hypepotamus covered Georgia Vax App earlier this year as founder Benjamin Warlick worked to automate how individuals on the Phase I list looked to schedule their shots. The text message bot now has updated to include more Georgia counties.
Featured photo from @jakaylatoney