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UW researchers want to hear your coughs to help COVID-19 patients

Researchers are developing an app to monitor coughs from self-quarantined coronavirus patients, but the app needs to be ‘trained’ to recognize coughing sounds.

SEATTLE — Researchers at the University of Washington are asking for the public’s help during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and you don’t even have to leave your house.

An app is being developed by a team from the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering that will allow health care workers and organizations to monitor coughs from self-quarantined coronavirus patients.

The UW said the app needs to be trained to recognize coughing sounds, which is where you can help. Researchers are asking for volunteers who can record and submit sounds of 20 coughs and five to 10 samples of other sounds like people talking, laughter, and throat-cleaning.

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Anyone wishing to participate will need to complete a 15-minute online survey which includes a consent form and a demographic and health questionnaire. Participants of all ages are welcome.

“These sounds will help us train our cough detection model,” said Matthew Whitehill, a doctoral student in the Allen School. ”We also train the model with negative examples — such as voices, laughing and throat clearing — to help it learn to not classify them as coughs. The more examples we can give the model, the better performance it will achieve.”

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The UW said using a computer or laptop instead of a smartphone or tablet would be best. Click here to participate in the study.

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