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Sonde Health and Michigan State University Collaborate on Research Study to Assess the Impact of COVID-19 on Physical Activity and Mental Health in Africa
[June 22, 2022]

Sonde Health and Michigan State University Collaborate on Research Study to Assess the Impact of COVID-19 on Physical Activity and Mental Health in Africa

Sonde Health, in collaboration with Michigan State University, University of Botswana, University of Ghana, University of Dar es Salaam, and University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has launched a new study that uses vocal biomarkers to identify and understand the relationship among physical activity, mental health, and respiratory health of individuals living in Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the study will extend the size and diversity of Sonde's vocal biobank, which will now include voice samples and health labels from people across four continents, multiple languages, and ethnic backgrounds, as well as socioeconomic classes. This increasingly diverse dataset provides validation of the generalization and applicability of Sonde's statistical health models for use around the world.

"Speech Production, Physical Activity as Predictors of Emotional Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana and Tanzania" aims to measure the impact of COVID-19 on physical activity, as well as whether levels of physical activity are associated with mental and physical health during the pandemic. So far, over 1,000 participants from Botswana, Ghana, Tanzania, and Nigeria, have provided 24,000 voice samples and completed health questionnaires (such as PHQ9, GAD7, IPAQ and COVID19). Sonde's advanced audio signal processing technology then measures over 1,000 parameters within each voice sample to identify subtle vocal changes associated with changing mental and physical health.

"This collaboration illustrates what private sector and higher education partnerships could do to addess global challenges," said Professor Leapetswe Malete of Michigan State University. "This study in four vast regions of Africa is not only innovative, but it has potential application to other areas of research. It is key to enhancing much needed diversity, equity, and inclusion in research, and improving access to communities that are normally left out due to geographic location and resource limitations."

"Beyond the potential global health benefits, our research study with Michigan State University and partner universities in Africa is an important milestone for Sonde, as we now expand our voice data collection and analysis to include a wide demographic of people across Africa," says David Liu, CEO of Sonde Health. "As we continue to advance our technology, the diversity in our dataset is crucial to ensuring the accuracy and applicability of our models across any population. Ultimately, having most unbiased dataset in the industry can help us extend our leadership position in using vocal biomarkers to monitor changes in health."

Though in its early stages, the study has already uncovered differing mental health patterns across countries.

The study's leads are Professor, Leapetswe Malete from Michigan State University; Dr. Dale Joachim from Sonde Health; Professor Reginald Ocansey and Dr. Clement Adamba from the University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana; Dr. Joyce Ndabi from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Dr. Dawn Tladi from the University of Botswana.

About Sonde Health

Sonde Health has developed an enterprise vocal biomarker platform that enables any company to either license respiratory or mental fitness monitoring product or create a novel vocal biomarker product. Sonde scales data collection, feature development, model creation and clinical validation in collaboration with its partners and customers. Leveraging over 1 million voice samples from 80,000+ individuals, Sonde uses advanced audio signal processing and machine learning to sense and analyze subtle vocal changes due to changes in a person's physiology to provide key insights into health and well-being.

About Michigan State University

Michigan State University is a premier public land-grant university in the United States, and one of the top research universities in the world. As the nation's pioneer land-grant university, MSU began as a bold experiment that democratized higher education and helped bring science and innovation into everyday life. MSU has extensive experience in managing large, global, multi-disciplinary projects. Key features of the MSU approach include collaborative project design and implementation, along with integration of capacity building, which facilitate sustained partnerships with a threefold result: high policy impact, strengthened institutions for continued innovation after project completion, greater human capacity for the next generation of leadership, and improving the durability of adaptation results.

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