Whosecough: In-the-Wild Cougher Verification Using Multitask Learning

Matt Whitehill, Jake Garrison, Shwetak Patel
Whosecough uses a patient's unique cough signature to determine when someone who coughs, who is coughing.


Current automatic cough counting systems can determine how many coughs are present in an audio recording. However, they cannot determine who produced the cough. This limits their usefulness as most systems are deployed in locations with multiple people (i.e., a smart home device in a four-person home). Previous models trained solely on speech performed reasonably well on forced coughs [1]. By incorporating coughs into the training data, the model performance should improve. However, since limited natural cough data exists, training on coughs can lead to model overfitting. In this work, we overcome this problem by using multitask learning, where the second task is speaker verification. Our model achieves 82.15% classification accuracy amongst four users on a natural, in-the-wild cough dataset, outperforming human evaluators on average by 9.82%.