Life sciences incubator PureTech Health (LON:PRTC), unfazed by the worldwide impact of the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union, announced its latest venture today: Sonde Health, which aims to use a voice-based technology to diagnose mental and physical ailments.
Based on technology licensed from the Mass. Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, Sonde’s device is designed to analyze short vocal samples to screen for conditions based on acoustic changes.
“Sonde is developing the technology platform to extract clinically meaningful health information from everyday voice interactions people have on a range of devices they already own,” co-founder & COO Jim Harper said in prepared remarks. “The analysis does not require the content of the speech to be retained, and can readily support the strong security and privacy features users demand with regard to potentially sensitive health information.”
“The ability to help recognize early signs of psychiatric illness and monitor treatment responses on devices that people already own is an important step in moving from reactive to preventive care,” added MedStar Georgetown University Hospital’s Aimee Danielson. “This would be particularly useful in conditions that are chronically under-diagnosed, like perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, including postpartum depression, and in other mental health and central nervous system disorders where there is a lack of objective and reliable screening and monitoring technologies.”
The MIT technology uses a computer to evaluate non-linguistic vocal characteristics such as changes in pitch and harmonics, articulation timing and hoarseness or breathiness. The analysis is then used to create “vocal biomarkers” that could indicate changes in a patient’s health; that means that strong privacy and security protections can be built into the system, Sonde said.
PureTech, which raised $171 million last year in its initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange, is 1 of the few British companies whose share price rose after the Brexit vote. PRTC shares were up 5.7% to £1.53 apiece today in late-day trading in The City.