Sonde launches voice API to detect mental illness

Sonde is looking to use vocal biomarkers to help evaluate mental wellness with its new API called Sonde Mental Fitness. 

According to the company, health systems, employers and wellness service providers are able to tap into the API as a way to gather insights about their patients. The tool uses audio signal processing and machine learning to analyze 30-second audio clips of a user’s voice and detect any vocal changes that could be a sign of mental state. The technology is able to transcribe and store the voice sample as daily diary entries. Users can then track their moods and emotions over time. The tool also offers health tips for mental wellness. 

The API is able to be integrated into third-party apps, and is also available to users as a standalone app. 

WHY IT MATTERS 

Today there are many people in the U.S. living with mental illness. During the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of mental illness have increased. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, 4 in 10 adults have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. That is up from 1 in 10 in 2019. 

Sonde Health is one of many digital mental health companies looking to use technology to help address mental health. 

“As the pandemic’s strain on mental health continues, Sonde Mental Fitness aims to shrink that gap by creating awareness. With a greater understanding of their mental well-being, people can take a more proactive approach to their mental health, including seeking treatment when necessary,” David Liu, CEO at Sonde Health, said in a statement. “In healthcare, better patient engagement leads to better outcomes. In the workplace, better awareness of mental health leads to healthier, happier and more productive employees, and could improve engagement with employer-provided mental health services, which resides at a low 5.5% utilization rate despite being offered at 97% of large employers.”

THE LARGER TREND 

Sonde Health is a spin out of PurseTech Health, the same company that spun out ADHD digital therapeutic Akili Interactive. The company has previously rolled out a vocal  screening tool for respiratory illness symptoms. In August 2020, the company announced its acquisition of voice-based platform-maker NeuroLex Laboratories

Sonde Health is far from the only company looking to detect mental health conditions through digital biomarkers. Consumer tech company Apple is looking to use digital biomarkers to help detect depression and early-stage cognitive decline. The tech giant has teamed up with UCLA researchers to look at how wearable and phone data could detect depression, and Biogen to focus on cognitive decline. 

Additionally, employer-focused company Mindstong developed tools to measure wellness through smartphone behaviors, such as how a patient taps, scrolls and types.

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