Sonde Health, a PureTech Health spinout focused on vocal biomarkers for various health conditions, has acquired voice-based survey-platform-maker NeuroLex Laboratories, the companies announced this morning.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, although the companies noted that NeuroLex CEO Jim Schwoebel will be stepping into Sonde's executive team as its new VP of data and research.
Sonde's mobile-based proprietary tech analyzes six-second voice samples to spot potential changes in their health. Built on a bank of more than 300,000 samples from over 50,000 individuals, it currently has products available for early detection of depression and respiratory illnesses (such as COVID-19). It is also investigating biomarkers surrounding hypertension and sleepiness.
NeuroLex, meanwhile, has built its own voice survey and analysis platform that can be shared with individuals via a URL link. Its dataset includes more than half a million health condition-tagged voice samples from over 30,000 individuals.
“I’m beyond excited to join Sonde’s amazing team and mission,” Schwoebel said in a statement. “We started NeuroLex to create a voice test to help screen for psychosis and related psychiatric conditions. Together with Sonde, we will expand beyond these conditions to transform the way both physical and mental health are detected and managed to positively impact lives.”
WHY IT MATTERS
Both companies are using digital technologies to build and refine vocal biomarker-based disease detection algorithms. Their announcement highlighted the R&D benefits of a combined voice-sample dataset, which they consider to be "one of the world's preeminent biobanks focused on vocal biomarkers," according to the announcement.
“Incorporating NeuroLex’s impressive work in voice-based surveys and research moves us significantly forward in becoming the one-stop shop for health condition detection and monitoring through voice,” David Liu, CEO of Sonde Health, said in a statement. “NeuroLex’s voice-based survey platform and biobank will accelerate our research and development, and our collection and analysis of high-quality voice data, bolstering all the products we provide to our customers.”
Sonde's acquisition of the web-based surveying tool's infrastructure will also allow the company to better implement its screening technology across more devices and platforms.
THE LARGER TREND
While today's acquisition combines two of the more prominent vocal-biomarker startups, Sonde and NeuroLex aren't the only ones listening for potential health changes.
Toronto-based WinterLight Labs, for instance, raised more than $4 million last year to assess cognitive health changes via voice, and shortly after licensed its machine learning tech to prescription digital therapeutics company Pear Therapeutics.
Meanwhile, Beyond Verbal has been a prominent name in voice-based emotion detection for health and wellness since its founding in 2012 – although this space in particular could eventually see some competition from Amazon's hardware and Alexa voice software teams.