“We need to listen to our bodies,” declares Dr Roeland Decorte whose deep tech startup is set to improve the health of billions and lower costs using just a standard microphone to capture information from the sounds we make to identify heart, breathing, digestive and mental wellbeing issues.
Using ground-breaking artificial intelligence developed by his Cambridge-based company Decorte Future Industries (decorte.co.uk), this enables continuous out-of-hospital monitoring and significantly increases early diagnostic and disease prevention options for doctors.
“Sound is the least explored medium, yet unrivalled in its accessibility and cost-effectiveness for analysis,” observes Decorte.
While the plan is for the highly scalable tech to be deployed on billions of smartphones, currently the company’s front and back facing Mk.2 button device is being used in trials, with specialist clinics the first target.
It records normal audio alongside other sensor readings such as movement and temperature.
From there it’s encoded in a formatted file. “The magic then happens in the cloud where the sounds are processed by our Sonus AI Engine, our primary product,” explains Decorte.
“This uses new signal processing and machine learning methods to identify specific sounds which contain complex medical information.
Doctors have long been able to pick up worrying features in people’s voices, our technology with direct and objective interactions enables them to go far beyond that.
“Sound can use a single sensor to detect different types of metrics. The same audio can be analysed and used to detect these metrics repeatedly so growth is almost unlimited.”
From design to manufacture, including 3D printing, assembly and sensor soldering, most development has been carried out in house by Decorte’s team of seven, with the printed circuit boards produced in Portsmouth.
“Because we have built our own data collection devices, we have the most valuable, commercially sound-to-health set in the world which we are expanding,” he says.
“In the cardiovascular space our button provides the same standard as uncomfortable ECG holters that need to be worn after being fixed by a clinician.”
Tech advances, and Decorte’s personal experience of seeing a close relative struggle for years because medical checks failed to pick up a serious heart condition, led to him founding the business in 2019.
Following positive trials in rural India with poor access to healthcare, these will continue this year with others in the EU and US.
“We have taken the harder, but more rewarding, route of engaging directly with the regulatory landscape and as well as the trials leading to us obtaining approvals. They are a key part of us establishing our unrivalled dataset,” adds Decorte.
“This strategy also opens up the medical, pharma reimbursement and insurance markets to our technology.”
The investment community, including the tech giants, has been quick to make some noise for Decorte whose own doctorate is in ancient codebreaking.
After attracting £1.3million in pre-seed funding, including from government-backed Innovate UK, the company is currently raising £4million which already includes £1million of reinvestment and one offer pledging the whole sum.
With no shortage of commitments then, this sound-to-health tech has plenty to shout about. decorte.co.uk