Northwestern Researchers Develop AI-Powered Throat Sensor to Track COVID-19 Symptoms

Throat sensor can track covid19 symptoms
Image credit: Northwestern University

The novel coronavirus affects people differently. As the virus is affecting people of all ages, the more unknowns seem to arise. Some affected people do not show any symptom of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. These mysteries highlight the desperate need for more data to help researchers and physicians better understand — and treat — the extremely contagious and deadly disease.

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Now, researchers at Northwestern University and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago have developed a novel wearable device and are creating a set of data algorithms specifically tailored to catch early signs and symptoms associated with COVID-19 and to monitor patients as the illness progresses. The tiny flexible electronic device can track coughing, body temperature, and respiration rate continuously, reports Northwestern University.

Capable of being worn 24/7, the device produces continuous streams of data and uses artificial intelligence to uncover subtle, but potentially life-saving, insights. Filling a vital data gap, it continuously measures and interprets coughing and respiratory activity in ways that are impossible with traditional monitoring systems.

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Wearable sensor being sterilized
Because the device is completely sealed, it can be fully immersed in alcohol and resterilized (Image credit: Northwestern University)

Developed in an engineering laboratory at Northwestern and using custom algorithms being created by Shirley Ryan AbilityLab scientists, the devices are currently being used at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab by COVID-19 patients and the healthcare workers who treat them. About 25 affected individuals began using the devices two weeks ago. They are being monitored both in the clinic and at home, totaling more than 1,500 cumulative hours and generating more than one terabyte of data.

About Northwestern University

Northwestern University (NU) is a private research university based in Evanston, Illinois. The university is known for its selectivity, global rankings, and comprehensive doctoral program that attracts nearly $800 million in sponsored research each year. Valued at $11.1 billion, Northwestern maintains one of the largest university endowments in the United States.

About Shirley Ryan AbilityLab

The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab is a nationally ranked physical medicine and rehabilitation research hospital based in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1954, the AbilityLab is designed for patient care, education, and research in physical medicine and rehabilitation.