UW News

March 31, 2020

UW researchers need your (digital) coughs

UW News

A student works at a laptop

While you’re working from home, fill out a survey that will help UW researchers develop a cough-monitoring app.University of Washington

For anyone who is looking for a way to help during the coronavirus pandemic while adhering to “stay-at-home” and social distancing orders, University of Washington researchers have a task for you.

A team from the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering is developing an app that will allow health organizations to monitor coughs from self-quarantined COVID-19 patients at home. Right now, the researchers need to train the app to recognize coughing sounds, so they are asking for participants who can complete a quick 15-minute survey to collect coughs and other vocalizations.

The survey includes:

  • a consent form
  • a demographic/health questionnaire
  • participants submitting sounds of 20 coughs and up to 10 samples of other vocalizations, including speech, throat-clearing and laughter

“These sounds will help us train our cough detection model,” said Matthew Whitehill, a doctoral student in the Allen School.”We also train the model with negative examples — such as voices, laughing and throat clearing — to help it learn to not classify them as coughs. The more examples we can give the model, the better performance it will achieve.”

The team welcomes participants of all ages. For the best results, participants should do this study on a computer or laptop instead of a smartphone or tablet.

This research is in collaboration with Dr. Margaret Rosenfeld at Seattle Children’s Hospital; Dr. Thomas Hawn, a professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine; and Dr. David Horne, an associate professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine. This work is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

For more information, contact Whitehill at mattw12@uw.edu.