Scottish startup develops AI test that detects Covid-19 through cough sound


Cloudsoft is an Edinburgh-based company that specialises in applications, automation and the cloud. Now, it has collaborated with the UK government to bring an innovative AI-based COVID-19 test. The Scottish company will also play a crucial role in helping the UK government implement this test that can accurately detect the virus using voice data.

AI to diagnose COVID-19

The test is dubbed as ‘Cough-In-A-Box’ application, which deploys Artificial Intelligence to diagnose COVID-19. It detects the virus through recordings of a user coughing into their smartphone’s microphone. The application has analysed over 70,000 recordings submitted by volunteers, of which 2,500 were from those who were COVID-19 positive.

The MIT researchers were able to train the AI model to accurately identify 98.5% of positive cases including completely asymptomatic cases. In October 2020, researchers at MIT revealed that they had successfully detected cases of COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals by processing recordings of an individual’s cough. This discovery opened the possibility of identifying potential coronavirus cases through an individual’s mobile phone without the need for immediate testing.

Ross Gray, CEO, Cloudsoft, said: “This is transformational technology for the greater human good and we’re proud to at the forefront of technological innovation to contribute to overcoming Covid-19. With so many applications in the real world, this technology could be a game-changer for so many sectors – including travel and hospitality, providing the current trials continue to show the same level of effectiveness as the initial MIT study.”

Aled Sage, Vice President, Engineering, Cloudsoft: “The high-profile nature of the project means that reliability, scalability and security are key requirements, and the cloud has enabled us to realise all of these. At the same time, we have been very conscious of the sensitive information and data that the application processes, which is why a combined cloud approach has been integral to ensure continuous resilience and reliability. It has been a fantastic project to be involved on from a technical perspective and not only demonstrates the power of collaboration between companies, but also the enormous potential of the cloud to power innovations that can make the world a better place and solve global challenges.”

David Cairns, Head of Innovation at Fujitsu, said: “This is exactly the sort of project that is only possible in the cloud. We relied on Cloudsoft’s expertise to co-architect the application to be cloud-native, ensuring that it could meet the demands of scale, reliability and security. This cutting-edge approach to Covid-19 detection has huge potential and is a perfect example of innovating for the human good.”

Works with cloud platforms

Since December last year, Cloudsoft engineers were working with specialists from Fujitsu, Formwize, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to convert the application to the cloud. This way, the UK Government could rapidly scale the application for 40,000 further trials and ensure to meet stringent demands for security and data processing. The reason is the use of personal voice data and combining it with participant’s medical history and PCR test data across four home nations across the UK.

Furthermore, the test uses Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure cloud platforms and benefits from increased reliability and resilience that are major requirements for the government to expand its trials.

Following the successful completion of the project by Fujitsu, Formwize and Cloudsoft, the UK Joint Biosecurity Centre is working with the Alan Turing Institute to assess the wider feasibility of the application. The initial trial has been expanded to include those taking part in the REACT1 Covid-19 prevalence survey.