Puretech Ownership
Product Candidate
Initial Indication(s)
Stage of Development
45.9% Equity
Sonde

Depression detection

Phase 1
Unlocking voice as a vital sign and meaningful predictor of health 

Founded by PureTech, Sonde is developing a voice-based technology platform to enable effective disease screening and management solutions based on an analysis of seconds of voice capture through consumer devices. Sonde’s proprietary technology is designed to sense and analyze subtle changes in the voice to create a range of persistent brain, muscle, and respiratory health measurements that provide a more complete picture of health in just seconds. To date, Sonde has collected voice data from over 40,000 subjects as a part of the ongoing validation of its platform, and it has also initiated research and development to expand its proprietary technology into Alzheimer’s, respiratory, and cardiovascular disease, as well as other health and wellness conditions.

Detection and quantification of subtle characteristic changes in the voice can accurately reveal important aspects of an individual’s changing health. Our platform is designed to rapidly measure a number of health-related features from just a few seconds of speech – without requiring analysis of the content of speech so user privacy can be protected. With today’s estimated four billion voice queries a day expected to double by 2020, we are advancing a leading platform that could potentially uncover important health content currently being overlooked from these voice interactions.


  • Program Discovery Process by the PureTech Team
    • PureTech was interested in new ways to detect and quantify disease in a low- to no-burden manner that could allow for more proactive and potentially effective interventions. PureTech selected vocal features as leading source of health data for this purpose, particularly given the evolving technology landscape where voice interactions with devices are rapidly increasing, and identified and in-licensed proprietary technology from Thomas Quatieri, PhD, at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in May 2016. PureTech developed additional, novel intellectual property around this concept and helped advance the technology from an academic concept to a commercially-focused technology. A core PureTech team member who played a critical role in founding Sonde is currently the chief operating officer. 
  • Patient Need & Market Potential
    • The lag between onset of disease and accurate diagnosis and beginning of treatment can be measured in years for many high-burden health conditions, including depression, Alzheimer’s disease (AD), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, to name just a few.
    • Depression alone affects approximately 17 million adults in the United States.
    • Near-continuous health information, powered by Sonde’s technology, has the potential to improve screening, monitoring and timeliness of treatment of high-cost conditions, broadly improving outcomes and care efficiency.
    • Development of effective therapies for central nervous system (CNS) diseases and disorders is hampered by the high cost and inherent variability of these diseases and the reference diagnostic measures used to characterize them. Objective digital tools that can augment, and perhaps one day replace, the current clinical endpoints with novel measures that can be quantified with more meaningful accuracy and less burden can improve patient enrollment and drug development for a range of important conditions.
  • Innovative Approach to Solving the Problem
    • Sonde is developing a voice-based technology platform to measure health when a person speaks. Sonde’s proprietary technology is designed to sense and analyze subtle changes in the voice to create a range of persistent brain, muscle and respiratory health measurements that provide a more complete picture of health in just seconds.
    • PureTech believes Sonde’s Vocal Biomarker program has demonstrated the potential to screen and monitor for disease using information obtained from an individual’s voice on commonly-owned devices, such as smartphones and smart speakers, and it has the potential to fundamentally change the way mental and physical health is screened and monitored.
    • Currently, Sonde is accelerating the development of respiratory measures that are directly relevant to its current customer pipeline and the immediate challenges facing global healthcare systems, including COVID-19. Sonde has voice data from over 2,000 asthma patients in India, including a large subset with spirometry data, which provides evidence that vocal biomarkers change significantly with respiratory impairment.
  • Milestones Achieved
    • Sonde has collected voice data from over 40,000 subjects as a part of the ongoing validation of its platform, and it has also initiated research and development to expand its proprietary technology into AD, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, as well as other health and wellness conditions.
    • Sonde is collaborating with the University of New South Wales and Black Dog Institute in Australia to create the first mobile device-based automatic assessment of depression from acoustic speech and has entered into collaborative partnerships with leading institutions, including UMass Memorial Medical Center, Yale University, Partners Massachusetts General Hospital and multiple other ex-US hospitals, clinics and academic medicine centers.
    • In April 2019, Sonde completed a $16 million Series A financing round, including the issuance of $6 million in shares upon conversion of debt into equity, to expand the capability of its voice-based technology platform for monitoring and diagnosing mental and physical medical conditions across additional health conditions and device types and to fund commercialization activities.
    • In October 2019, David Liu joined Sonde as chief executive officer and a member of its board of directors. 
  • Expected Milestones
    • Sonde expects topline results from a depression detection study in 2020.
    • Sonde expects to launch its application programming interface (API) platform, which will allow the world to license and build products with Sonde’s voice biomarker based health detection technology, in 2020.
    • Sonde also has ongoing discovery efforts to expand its pipeline.

Sonde’s Vocal Biomarker program has demonstrated the potential to effectively screen and monitor for disease using information obtained from an individual’s voice on commonly-owned devices and it has the potential to fundamentally change the way mental and physical health are monitored and diagnosed.


Voice used differently