SK Telecom offers AI voice analysis for dementia diagnosis

The AI will look for signs of dementia by analysing patients' voice.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

SK Telecom and Seoul National University College of Medicine have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to help identify dementia earlier. 

The AI tool analyses the voices of patients by having a 10-minute conversation with them to determine if they may have dementia, the two organisations said on Monday.

They said the AI is able to do this as voice emitted from the vocal cord changes as it passes through the vocal tract and the way this happens is different for healthy individuals and dementia patients. The AI looks for this difference when making its diagnosis.

This accessibility will assist in early diagnosis, SK Telecom said, which it explained is crucial for slowing down the progression of dementia. It will also save costs for hospitals and the elderly.

South Korea had 788,000 dementia patients in 2019 and this is expected to increase to around 1.36 million by 2030, according to the National Institute of Dementia.

SK Telecom and the university will trial the program this month at major hospitals and local dementia clinics to improve diagnosis accuracy.

The program will be offered in app form for remote diagnosis. 

The pair will also work to add speech pattern analysis, facial recognition, heartbeat monitoring, and blood pressure measurement to further upgrade the accuracy of the diagnosis program.

In May, SK Telecom rolled out an autonomous robot that can check people's temperatures and disinfect areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

SK Telecom also signed a memorandum of understanding with Yonsei University to apply 5G to offer smart hospital solutions last year. 

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