Smartphones are quickly evolving from pure information delivery tools into devices with advanced software capable of diagnosing and evaluating a number of health issues.

Not only are they being used to expand the reach of mobile eye exams, but with the help of some new research and innovative artificial intelligence tools, they’re stepping into the domain of behavioral health. Emotions analytics company Beyond Verbal has launched its Beyond mHealth Research platform in the hopes that it will eventually be able to identify physiological markers in the voice that point to different health-related issues.

The platform launch marks the Israel-based company’s first step into health and wellness after getting its start in behavioral health. The project has been getting attention from many in the healthcare and tech communities, including Mark Zuckerberg. According to VentureBeat, the Facebook head has praised the platform for its interesting potential.

The Power of Vocal Biomarkers

Most specifically, the Beyond Verbal research platform has been used to detect heart problems, and has also claimed to have found unique biomarkers for conditions including ALS and Parkinson’s.

Already, Beyond mHealth researchers are able to integrate the Beyond Verbal API into any app and align it with other life events. This allows the team to leverage existing artificial intelligence tools to build new insight into vocal biomarkers. The platform also offers HIPAA-compliant data collection through an app that collects participant data via a secure web interface that also facilitates information sharing. However, the company stresses that they will not be invading privacy or listening for words.

Beyond Verbal has been working steadily as of late to understand the connection between emotions and voice. CEO Yuval Mor elaborated to MobiHealthNews, “We’ve [been] doing work for a long time about the emotional side of voice, and over the last few years, over the connection between the tone of voice and medical conditions.”

Beyond Verbal is a study in long-term dedication to a human problem. Their work combines research projects spanning 21 years, and in that time, they’ve collected over 2.5 million emotion-tagged voices in over 40 languages to feed their study of the voice and human emotions. They’ve also partnered with organizations including the Mayo Clinic, Scripps, Haddassah Medical Center in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University.

A Possible Future in Telemedicine

This recent innovation intersects promisingly with telemedicine initiatives. Mor hopes that in the future, patients will be able to call a clinician and have specific medical conditions identified over the phone via voice analysis, eventually extending care to remote areas of the world.

Beyond Verbal currently has two consumer-facing apps, Moodies and Empath, both of which are available at no charge, and Beyond Clinic, which is geared toward clinicians.

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