Return-to-work app uses voice samples to screen for respiratory illness symptoms

Designed to help screen employees for COVID-19, Sonde One uses a questionnaire, temperature and user voice-samples to provide daily guidance.
By Dave Muoio
03:01 pm
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A new app announced this morning by PureTech Health spinout Sonde Health will listen to employees' voices to determine whether they have a potential respiratory condition and shouldn't return to work.

The Sonde One app combines a COVID-19 questionnaire, user-reported temperature and a six-second voice sample to render its judgement and provide guidance to the employee.

These guidances can be customized to fit each employer's work policies, with an option to generate unique QR codes that an employee would need to present upon arrival to ensure screening compliance. Each employer-specific version of the app will be available for download on either the App Store or Google Play.

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“At Sonde, we believe that voice is a vital sign and a meaningful predictor of health,” David Liu, CEO at Sonde Health, said in a statement. “By analyzing a few seconds of speech, we can detect subtle changes in a person’s voice caused by common symptoms of respiratory disease. We built this capability into the Sonde One app so organizations can provide their employees with simple, fast and effective COVID-19 monitoring in their pocket.”

To kick things off, Sonde Health said that it has already partnered with Wellworks for You, a company that provides corporate wellness products to 1.4 million individuals through its clients. Among the first to roll out the tool will be 5,000-person technology-products and services provider SHI International in August.

WHY IT MATTERS

As COVID-19 cases continue to mount in most states and employers lay out their return-to-work strategies, a new market has presented itself to companies specializing in health-screening technologies.

In addition to its novelty, Sonde's recently patented voice-based software platform is more scalable and easier to deploy than strategies that would rely on hardware. It also comes with the added benefit of voice-based identify verification, which, along with the QR code functionality, could help employers enforce compliance with their new policies.

THE LARGER TREND

Sonde Health's entrance into this new market was predicated by similar services from well-known health and technology firms. Within the last month alone, Fitbit announced its device- and app-driven Ready for Work solution, Verily unveiled its Health at Work digital analytics and testing-coordination product, and CVS Health came out with an end-to-end digital service called Return Ready that provides an on-site testing option.

But the big names aren't alone in targeting this new employee COVID-19 screening market. Zebra Technologies and VitalTech each unveiled digital health efforts early in the month that focus on employee proximity and contact tracing, and on at-home symptom checking, respectively.

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