Sonde Raises $19M for Voice-Based Screening

Sonde Health puts a few unique spins on the hard problem of early disease detection, but its core tech is built around doing one thing extremely well: flagging patients at risk for health conditions using short voice clips.

Now, after landing a string of new partnerships and $19.25M in Series B funding, Sonde is turning its sights to global expansion.

Sonde’s AI-enabled platform analyzes vocal biomarkers like smoothness, pitch, and clarity to gain insight into a patient’s mental state. It also measures breath cadence and vocal capacity to gauge their respiratory health.

  • This data isn’t positioned as a standalone solution for diagnosing medical conditions, but as a way to improve the clinical workflows of physicians / therapists, the patient stratification of RPM programs, and the value of call center audio.
  • Sonde’s platform can be embedded directly onto device chipsets for passive health monitoring, a feature that’s already being explored within Qualcomm’s smartphone chips and GN Group’s hearing products.
  • This technology also produces a treasure trove of every healthcare startup’s favorite asset – data. Sonde claims to have the largest and most diverse health-labeled voice dataset, with over 1.2M voice clips from 85k users across four continents.

The latest funding will help Sonde expand into Asia, where it’s reportedly seen high demand for its existing solutions, and support the addition of more health conditions to its platform.

  • A validation study of Sonde’s mental health tools is underway at McMaster University, and research on new focus areas is in development at Cambridge University (cystic fibrosis) and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (dementia).
  • A partnership with Korean telecom giant KT corporation should also streamline the international expansion by bringing Sonde into its call centers and telehealth solutions.

The Takeaway

Although voice-tech is a relatively new healthcare arena, the prospect of passively diagnosing conditions has attracted plenty of competition from startups like Kintsugi ($20M Series A in March) and Eleos ($20M Series A in April), and it’s definitely on the radar of larger players like Microsoft (Nuance) and Amazon (Alexa).

As these companies begin to refine the AI models supporting voice diagnosis, access to proprietary data sets for training the algorithms will become increasingly important for gaining an edge, and Sonde’s funding announcement makes it clear that it plans on turning its dataset into its biggest competitive advantage as quickly as possible.

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