Coronavirus, Lungs, University of Washington

UW researchers need your (digital) coughs

Picture that shows the droplets of moisture shed when a man coughs.

Sarah McQuate, UW News

For anyone who is looking for a way to help during the coronavirus pandemic while adhering to “stay-at-home” and social distancing orders, University of Washington researchers have a task for you.

A team from the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering is developing an app that will allow health organizations to monitor coughs from self-quarantined COVID-19 patients at home.

Right now, the researchers need to train the app to recognize coughing sounds, so they are asking for participants who can complete a quick 15-minute survey to collect coughs and other vocalizations.

The survey includes:

  • a consent form
  • a demographic/health questionnaire
  • participants submitting sounds of 20 coughs and up to 10 samples of other vocalizations, including speech, throat-clearing and laughter

“These sounds will help us train our cough detection model,” said Matthew Whitehill, a doctoral student in the Allen School.”We also train the model with negative examples — such as voices, laughing and throat clearing — to help it learn to not classify them as coughs. The more examples we can give the model, the better performance it will achieve.”

The team welcomes participants of all ages. For the best results, participants should do this study on a computer or laptop instead of a smartphone or tablet.

For more information, contact Whitehill at