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France introduces voice assistant facility to aid COVID-19 patients


French researchers have recently launched a voice assistant facility that can be of help for callers who are suffering from possible coronavirus symptoms and using artificial intelligence further direct them to the emergency services or even their doctors.

Apparently, everyone living in France is now allowed to call the ‘AlloCovid’ service that has been developed by the INRIA, the University of Paris, a French research institute as well as the French railway firm SNCF. The call line will have a female greet the callers naming herself the virtual AlloCovid assistant and asking if the caller is ready to start with the basic questionnaire.

The callers are mainly asked for their postcode but they are not asked for their names. The assistant checks for their symptoms as well as the pre-existing conditions and upon the identification of these, they are further directed to the right professionals.

The developers have been expecting the voice assistant to be more helpful in supporting the authorities to detect newer infection cases after the country ends the lockdown post-May 11. The voice assistant is slightly easier to access concerning the older population who have a preference for telephones over filling forms or mobile phone apps.

The system is capable of handling about 1,000 calls at one time. The information given out by the callers is anonymously sent to all the healthcare authorities and is maintained for about 7 days and then destroyed completely.

The project leader, Professor Xavier Jouven said that as far as the researchers knew, this was the very first time that the artificial intelligence was being used to serve and help cater to the public health.

Reportedly, the number used for AlloCovid is a separate one from the contact used in StopCovid which is another app developed by the government specifically to trace contacts of people who are affected by the COVID-19 virus.


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