Vocal Biomarkers – Listening in to Your Body
Sound vibrations are used as part of therapeutic healing for various mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Recent research studies, however, have greatly broadened its application into diagnosis of diseases. Biomarkers in the voice of a person have been linked to disorders such as depression, coronary artery disease, and anxiety. On successful completion of clinical trials, HIPAA compliant vocal biomarker system would serve as much more effective alternative to current diagnostic techniques such as MRI, X-Ray, and CT scan. Research is also underway for identifying vocal biomarkers in diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, cognitive impairment, and respiratory disorders, which would open up a highly lucrative avenue for growth for players in this industry. Companies dealing with voice technology are sampling data to provide accurate results. For instance, Beyond Verbal, Inc. has been researching on vocal biomarkers since 1996, and has collected over 2.5 million voice samples in over 40 different languages.
While currently in its very nascent stage with an estimated value of US$ 6.4 million in 2017, the global vocal biomarkers market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 65.7% during the forecast period (2017 – 2028).
Figure 1. Global Vocal Biomarkers Market Size and Forecast, US$ Million and Y-o-Y Growth (%), 2017–2028
Source: Coherent Market Insights Analysis (2017)
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Growing Psychological and Cardiovascular Disease Prevalence: A Highly Conducive Growth Environment
Around 350 million people across the globe suffered from depression (WHO, 2016) and approximately 10 million people suffered from Parkinson’s disease globally (Parkinson’s disease Foundation, 2016). Over 235 million people suffered from asthma globally (2016), according to the European Respiratory Society. Diagnosis of these diseases is expensive and thus, is out of reach for most people in emerging economies. This results in high mortality rates in these regions. Vocal biomarker technology systems would act as an ideal cost-effective primary diagnostic tool that could help discern if the patient needs to further opt for expensive X-Ray/MRI/CT/EEG/ECG scans. Thus, millions of suffering from these chronic ailments explicates large potential for vocal biomarkers technology in the commercial space in the long run. Moreover, alterative conventionally used diagnostic systems need to adhere to stringent regulations pertaining to radiation. On the other hand, voice-based systems are based on technology that does not subject the user to any form of radiation and thus, is expected to gain significant traction in the near future.
Rising Demand for Minimally Invasive Techniques to Support the Progress of Vocal Biomarkers Market
Though MRI, CT, X-Ray and ECG, are minimally invasive technologies, they are out of reach for remotely located population. Also, patients prefer minimally invasive procedures as these allow for speedy recovery post procedure. Moreover, high costs of these tests results in substantial healthcare burden for governments and insurance companies alike. Vocal biomarkers is a non-invasive technology and provides great simplicity to an individual. This is therefore analyzed to provide a competitive edge over existing diagnostic technologies that lack the capability to carry preventive diagnosis. Furthermore, this extremely user-friendly system falls perfectly in line with increasing self-diagnosis and self-medication trend, which would significantly fuel demand for vocal biomarkers.
Strategic Collaborations to Decrease the Turnaround Time for Commercialization of Products
Mr. Charles Marmar (Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, New York University's Langone Medical Center), is conducting a five year study to identify vocal biomarkers for diagnosis of traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSB), and depression. Initial studies have identified 30 vocal characteristics that seem to be associated with TBI and PTSB. Mr. Marmar has collaborated with SRI International (a non-profit research institute based in California), to identify vocal biomarkers. Beyond Verbal, Inc. is working with Mayo Clinic, Haddassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Scripps, and Tel Aviv University to expand its vocal biomarker’s research into healthcare sector.
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