The Office of the European Union Representative
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EU-funded Cambridge university team launches COVID sounds app

15/05/2020 - 08:44
News stories

A team of EU-funded researchers in Cambridge University has launched an app that records voice, breathing and coughs – data, which has the potential to assist the development of machine learning algorithms that could make it easier to diagnose COVID-19.

covid-19, uk

Professor Cecilia Mascolo received an advanced grant from the European Research Council (ERC) last year for her EAR project – a project, which looks in general in the collection of audio data via mobiles, so as to link sounds to disease diagnosis.

The EAR project partially supports the current app (Cambridge University press release) which focuses on COVID-19 symptoms:  dry coughs and how people speak when having breathing problems associated with the virus. The app is voluntary and collects basic demographic and medical information, as well as audio samples of voice, breathing and coughs. It does not track, neither does it provide medical advice.

Once Professor Mascolo’s team have collected a dataset and done its initial analysis, they will make it available to other researchers.

Interview with Professor Mascolo

The advanced grants are an ERC scheme, which supports established researchers who need long-term funding to pursue ground-breaking and high-risk projects. Since the launch of the ERC in 2007, more than two thousand main ERC grants have been awarded in the UK to the total of £3.2 billion  (€3.6 billion). The Withdrawal Agreement foresees that the UK will continue to participate in the current 2014-2020 EU programmes, including ERC grants, as if the UK was an EU member state until the closure of the programmes.