A Touchless Tool to Screen for Covid-19 for reopening Industries

Kazem Moussavi, Zahra | $50,000

Manitoba University of Manitoba 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

Canada is entering the important yet dangerous phase of the COVID‑19 pandemic: the reopening of industry. As such, there is an urgent need for a quick and accurate screening tool to help ensure people re-entering the workplace are COVID‑19 negative. This proposal offers an innovative, simple-to-implement and quick screening tool for this purpose. Based on our many years of respiratory sounds analysis for diagnostic purposes, we hypothesize that breathing sounds of a COVID‑19 positive person would have different characteristics even if the person is asymptomatic. Thus, built upon our expertise in designing acoustic diagnostic devices, we propose the development of an integrated diagnostic pattern recognition tool in the form of an iPhone app, using audio and temperature as inputs to identify COVID‑19 positive individuals. The proposed digital technology will screen individuals as healthy or possibly COVID‑19 positive. The latter group will then be recommended for further testing. The goal of the proposed app is to provide much more accurate early screening (currently only temperature is taken), and to reduce the burden of COVID‑19 tests. This digital technology will be used and tested in Manitoba initially and later nationally in Canada, with the potential of being publicly available in the future.

To use the proposed screening tool, an iPhone is held within 1 cm of an individual’s mouth and the individual instructed to take five deep breaths through the mouth. The individuals’ breathing sounds will be recorded by the iPhone, while his/her temperature will also be recorded by the heat camera. The app will first use its acoustic analysis to identify sounds as healthy or abnormal. If the outcome is abnormal, then a questionnaire will be provided, along with a further acoustic analysis to rule out other common comorbid conditions (e.g. chronic lung disease). Finally, based on the inputs, the diagnostic algorithm will decide if the individual should be referred for further testing or not. Since the proposed end product is a smartphone app, the two software partner companies will play a crucial role in the final integration and development.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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