COVID-19 breath test 'smells' virus using AI, electronic nose

February 25, 2021 // By Rich Pell
COVID-19 breath test 'smells' virus using AI, electronic nose
Neuromorphic processor company BrainChip has announced that it has successfully detected COVID-19 in exhaled breath with fast high-accuracy results.

The company, working with nano artificial nose company NaNose Medical, says that tests using the NaNose Medical sensor array to collect patients’ exhaled breath samples data, and its Akida AI processor to perform the diagnosis, showed that such an approach can have a higher rate of reliability than current testing methods and poses less risk to medical professionals because no saliva or mucus samples are collected.

"Artificial intelligence in medicine and healthcare is an emerging field," says Louis DiNardo, BrainChip CEO, "and one in which we are eager to contribute with our edge AI processing solution at the Edge, for the benefit of science and humanity."

The company's Akida "Edge AI" chip is a complete neural processor that does not require an external CPU, memory, or deep learning accelerator (DLA), and because it is ultra-low power, says the company, it offers a realistic opportunity for an inexpensive hand-held diagnostic testing tool akin to a breathalyzer. For its part, NaNose Medical's technology has the same sensitivity to minute quantities of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as a dog's nose, and been tested to identify diseases including Parkinson's, cancers, kidney failure, multiple sclerosis and infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

In the tests for COVID-19 using the Akida chip, NaNose Medical collected samples from 130 patients and sent nanomaterial sensor data to BrainChip's Research Institute in Perth, Western Australia, which configured and trained its Akida neuromorphic processor to interpret the data using AI/ML. The system detected the instances of COVID-19 between a disease group and a healthy control group and Akida learned to recognize patterns of VOC biomarkers associated with an infection within seconds with a high level of accuracy in a minimal time frame.

"Using the NaNose Medical artificial nose, and Akida’s artificial brain," say the companies, "is a potential breakthrough in accurate, fast, inexpensive, widespread testing with the potential to control outbreaks and reduce this disease's death toll."

NaNose Medical is currently collecting samples from three primary worldwide locations and will work with BrainChip to evaluate the data.

BrainChip
NaNose Medical

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