In October last year, the news told Amazon has filed a patent for its virtual voice assistant, Alexa again. The patent describes software used in Alexa to analyze speech and identify signs of illness. For instance, Alexa could detect when a user is coughing or sniffling while talking to the device. Then it is going to provide certain remedies — such as a recipe for chicken soup or help you order cough drops.
In China, voice recognition applied in healthcare, especially in AI diagnosis, has been blooming as well. Lots of them surround the idea of using chatbot to act as your virtual doctor for the pre-treatment consultation. Last year in May, a Shanghai-based Insurtech startup CareVoice founded by a French entrepreneur, partnered with a US startup Sensely, allows its members to make inquiries regarding their symptoms, access self-care content and be recommended with relevant medical specialists. Below is the video demo:
Local experts said many AI algorithm startups often boast about developing proprietary voice recognition technology to set up the best-in-class virtual doctor/health assistant, nevertheless, the sophistication of the solution imposes a big question mark for most of these startups.
Today, local giants like Ping An Good Doctor (one-stop healthcare service platform) powered by Ping An Group (a behemoth whose subsidiaries mainly deal with insurance, banking, and financial services) is also spearheading the voice trend.
It already implemented a virtual assistant as the first step of guiding users to relevant human doctors for further consultation, though the whole chatting experience remains simple and basic.
In October last year, it launched a Smart Listening Diagnosis as an online tool for doctors, which can collect and analyze users’ voices to assess their current health condition based on the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), in particular accurately identifying the TCM constitution type of the users, such as Damp-Heat Constitution, Blood Stasis Constitution,Yang Deficient Constitution etc. It is said Ping An Good Doctor has been able to compile a large number of audio samples due to its over 200 million registered users. Next, these samples were manually identified and labeled by TCM doctors across China before they were sent to the Ping An’s own AI training system. Even though many would argue TCM is a vague science compared to western medicine, TCM holds its unique value in the country and TCI AI analysis should require less accuracy and be safe even to be used by regular consumers on daily basis.
Recently I met this interesting local AI startup which can provide comprehensive health-related data analytics behind medical institutions, hospitals, insurance companies, sports-fitness company, and smart devices powered by Xiaomi/Hua Wei. The startup also claims to be capable of voice analysis & monitoring to detect early signs of asthma, stutter, and Parkinson’s disease.
By: Cecilia Wu