Massachusetts Artificial Intelligence and Technology Center for Connected Care in Aging & Alzheimer’s Disease (MassAITC) has selected Sonde Health and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Frontotemporal Disorders (FTD) unit to lead a study to examine the use of vocal biomarkers for remote detection and monitoring of mild cognitive impairment in the home setting.

The pilot study will use vocal biomarkers for the cognitive assessment of speech and memory functions in patients ages 55 and more. It is part of a $1.7m grant from MassAITC and the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a branch of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

According to the US-based Sonde Health, the study will investigate the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technology for in-home care.

It will assess the possibility to record older people’s voices in their homes and utilise those recordings to track speech and memory functions over time.

Sonde Health CEO David Liu said: “Nearly 90% of older adults wish to stay in their homes for as long as possible. Digital technologies, and digital biomarkers in particular, have great potential to support this shift.

“By monitoring cognitive health from afar through vocal biomarkers, Sonde’s technology could help facilitate this desire to ‘age in place,’ offering these patients the ability to remain in a familiar environment without sacrificing quality care.”

The project will recruit 50 adults from the FTD unit. The participants’ cognitive abilities will range from normal cognition to moderate cognitive impairment (MCI), mild dementia, and subjective cognitive decline, Sonde Health said.

The longitudinal study will look at the viability of using the company’s vocal biomarker platform to track and identify changes in cognitive performance for people at home.

All the participants will record 10-15 distinct speech samples and responses to cognitive tests both in the laboratory and from their own smartphones at home. These voice recordings will be examined for acoustic characteristics that are related to the mental state, the US-based firm said.