Harley Street mental health clinic trials AI voice recognition tool


Green Door Clinic is taking part in the trial of new technology that tracks vocal traits that might act as possible markers of depression

Green Door Clinic, a specialist mental health clinic based in the Harley Street Medical Area, is trialling a revolutionary machine-learning tool that tracks voice changes.

One problem with managing major depression is that patients and clinicians often lack a robust way to monitor the progression of the illness over time. Large gaps between consultations means it can be difficult for patients to remember or monitor how they have been feeling between each session. This problem can be magnified if a patient sees several clinicians.

Affect.AI is a ground-breaking voice-based AI tool that has been developed to address this challenge. The technology – developed by Imperial College students Woochan Hwang and Alice Tang and data scientist Dr Wun Wong – uses machine learning, along with formal assessments made by a clinician, to determine the changing characteristics of an individual’s voice over time.

While the symptoms of depression can be hard to recognise, it is known that vocal traits such as pitch and volume can act as biomarkers, making it possible to detect the severity of the condition. Researchers have been studying these different paraverbal patterns for over a decade, and today the rise of advanced computer analytics has given them a way to quantify this data. Computer algorithms can pick up on differences in tone that a human might miss and help clinicians track patients over time by comparing the data with their own baselines.

The Green Door Clinic is one of the first clinics in the UK to test this technology. Jenny Dew, lead psychotherapist at Green Door Clinic, said: “The Green Door Clinic helps provide both patients and therapists to assist in the trialling of the technology. We do this because we believe in innovation and technological improvement in the health industry. The use of technology to improve the treatment of mental health has been an area without much development for many years, so when we were informed of the project by Imperial College, we jumped at the opportunity to assist.”