Currently deployed as an embedded model on an Android app, Ubenwa, which means “Baby’s Cry”, is expected to help parents and caregivers detect childbirth asphyxia earlier and save the lives of thousands of babies’ lives yearly.

Founders of the start-up; Charles Onu and Udeogu Innocent say the AI solution has achieved over 95% prediction accuracy in trials with nearly 1,400 pre-recorded baby cries. They are now raising funds to acquire more data to improve accuracy and obtain clinical approval from health institutions.

Birth asphyxia is the third highest cause of under-five child deaths and is responsible for almost one million neonatal deaths annually, according to WHO. It has also been linked to 1.1 Million intrapartum stillbirths, long-term neurological disability and impairment.

The Ubenwa team is currently conducting clinical validation exercises in Nigeria at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital and in Canada at the McGill University Health Centre.

“We want to do the tests in the hospital, interact directly with the babies, and compare how Ubenwa performs given all the new environmental challenges that would come up. The reason we are able to pursue this real-time validation in the clinical setting is as a result of the success of our earlier work,” Onu said.

Ubenwa’s co-founder and engineering lead, Udeogu Innocent, said after being able to achieve a level of success with the model, the start-up then deployed its technology to a mobile app for easier mobile diagnosis of birth asphyxia. It builds on techniques that have been developed for speech recognition analysing the amplitude and frequency patterns of the cry.

Ubenwa is already gaining International recognition and is in the final round for the Global IBM Watson AI XPRIZE competition, which has a $5 million prize.