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Algorithm aims to detect Covid-19 cases with app that records coughing

Barcelona hospital part of MIT study led by Catalan researcher to develop free diagnostic tool to help with return to normal life


16 April 2020 05:50 PM


ACN | Barcelona

A Barcelona hospital is among a number of health centers that are helping a research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US to develop an algorithm that can detect cases of Covid-19 through an app.

The project, headed by Catalan researcher Brian Subirana, from MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, aims to detect positive cases of the disease simply by answering questions on a smartphone and by providing a recorded sample of coughing.

Hospital Clínic in the Catalan capital is one of the centers collaborating in the study, although the researchers also need more data from the general public, and have set up the website,, where anyone can anonymously record their cough

The researchers hope that the algorithm can help with managing the return to normal life once the quarantine restrictions are lifted, as well as avoiding new coronavirus outbreaks after that by detecting Covid-19 cases in a "simple and immediate" way.

"We are very excited about the idea of working with this free and far-reaching new diagnostic tool to tackle this global pandemic," said Subirana, who called for more contributions of cough samples, adding, "the more data the better."

Once the initiative has gathered enough data to provide trustworthy results, it will be presented to the scientific community and health authorities for validation. The ultimate aim is to provide the diagnostic algorithm for free as open source.


  • A person holding their phone during a conference (by Mar Vila)

  • A person holding their phone during a conference (by Mar Vila)