Health Devices
Now meet the good side of AI - Corti can spot a heart attack over the phone with 95% accuracy

Now meet the good side of AI - Corti can spot a heart attack over the phone with 95% accuracy

Danish startup has created an AI that listens, and advises, on emergency dispatch calls

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As dozens of new artificial intelligence gadgets flooded the show floor at CES, we explored the threat such AI can pose to our privacy — from cameras watching when they shouldn't, to smart home devices hijacked over insecure internet connections.

But AI can be used for good, too. Step forward Danish startup Corti and its artificial intelligence of the same name, designed to help emergency dispatchers diagnose a heart attack just by listening to the call.

Read More: In 2018, AI will be listening and watching us more than ever - is our privacy under threat?

Even if the caller is not the one suffering the potential heart attack, Corti can hear noises in the background — such as the irregular breathing of the victim — and help provide dispatchers with advice. Such calls are often made by a panicked friend or relative with no medical experience. But the AI is meant to act as a calm and knowledgeable assistant that never gets flustered in an emergency situation.

With the chances of survival from cardiac arrest falling 10 percent every minute their heart is stopped, the AI's assistance can be invaluable. Emergency dispatchers in Copenhagen, Denmark, can recognize cardiac arrest from descriptions over the phone around 73 percent of the time, reports Fast Company, but in a small-scale study it was found Corti AI could recognize cardiac arrest 95 percent of the time. A larger study, which puts Corti to work on 170,000 calls, will be published soon.

Corti chief executive Andreas Cleve describes one story from the study — when an emergency call came through about a man who had fallen from the roof of his house. A woman called to report the incident, telling the dispatcher the man had broken his back. But, after listening to the background, Corti could hear the patient gasping for breath, along with a faint rattling noise — a sign his heart had stopped and he was unable to breath. The man had in fact fallen — but because he had gone into cardiac arrest. However, as Corti was still in the listening and learning phase of development, it was not able to assist the dispatcher, and the patient did not survive.

A video published by Corti, embedded above, demonstrates how the AI picks up on keywords during the emergency call, identifies the emotions of the caller, while picking up on noises made by the patient, such as irregular breathing. This insight can then be shared with the dispatcher, who can call an ambulance if the AI suggests they do so. In the future, the AI could even be used to summon a defibrillator-carrying drone, capable of arriving at the scene more quickly than an ambulance.

The end-game isn't to replace humans in the medical industry with AI and robots, but to use technology like Corti to supplement the good work humans are already doing every day. Cleve explains: "I would always, especially when it comes to my health, prefer human contact. But augmented by a supportive system that might be using AI - that, to me, is sort of an end-game scenario."

Developers are testing Corti in just Denmark for now. But the company says it has plans to potentially expand into the US.

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