Bringing melody to AI research into Alzheimer’s treatment

What do audio and healthtech have in widespread? What about Audio-AI and a 17th century lute? SUTD PhD college student and musician Christopher Clarke sees the connections. He talks about how his polytechnic instruction, tunes coaching, and audio business appear collectively in an interdisciplinary path of education and learning in the direction of the advancement of healthtech remedies.

By Sabrina Lee

Singaporean musician Christopher Clarke had just offered his most latest exploration at The Audio Developer Convention in London, British isles, on how neural networks that mimic the human mind can present more quickly overall performance for audio computing. Outlining in wide phrases, Christopher states, “Neural networks can simulate a violin devoid of the have to have for an real violin. They are a big enable in creating tunes and seems, boosting efficiency and pace.”

The ultimate-calendar year PhD prospect at the Singapore College of Technological innovation and Style and design (SUTD) is now specialising in Synthetic Intelligence (AI) and how it can be trained to execute computations that would typically get much more time employing standard computing solutions. He is a member of the interdisciplinary Acoustics & Audio Investigate Team at SUTD led by Professor Jer-Ming Chen. Christopher participates in research that focuses on discovering the potential applications of AI in analysing acoustic alerts in healthcare options — for instance, screening for Alzheimer’s.

The group’s operate sits comfortably in an unconventional house – an intersection in between acoustics and professional medical know-how – where Christopher’s prior expertise of speech and audio processing is staying utilised to properly classify Alzheimer’s people from management topics by analyzing their speech.

Christopher points out that the group’s exploration will not only make it possible for for timely detection of Alzheimer’s, but also early intervention. “We’re presently acquiring AI that can present perception into the severity of the issue.”

Even though investigate on detecting Alzheimer’s cues from audio is not new, Christopher is enthusiastic about the possible effect of the study. He claims, “It is interesting to witness the strides we have made, and I hope that one working day this qualified prospects to improved and a lot more affordable healthcare for folks.”


Maths and audio do get along

An early interest in taking part in instruments led Christopher to a Diploma in Songs and Audio Engineering from Singapore Polytechnic (SP). He observed his foreseeable future purely in the environment of audio, so he followed up with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in New music from The Liverpool Institute for Accomplishing Arts, Uk, and then  a Master of Audio (MMus) from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Tunes, Nationwide College of Singapore (NUS).

Christopher plays an unconventional instrument called the theorbo. It is a lengthy-necked lute-type instrument with 14 strings, which he picked up in his last calendar year at NUS. “I get pleasure from collaborating with other musicians, and the theorbo is primarily made use of in ensemble performances. This can make actively playing it far more enjoyable as in contrast to me participating in my classical guitar which is much more suited for solo performances,” he elaborates.

Christopher not only took music lessons at NUS, he also used his time to take a look at ground breaking ways to problem-fixing, such as probing how technological know-how could be employed to improve the new music-generating procedure. To make composing with a personal computer additional pleasurable and interactive, he drew on what he learnt in some Mathematics modules he took as a college student in SP to develop a codebase for musical composition using stochastic solutions.

“In music, stochastic strategies can enable produce new tracks by employing random possibilities to make a decision which notes or rhythms to use. Merely put, it is like flipping a coin to make your mind up what recreation to enjoy or rolling a dice to see what colour you need to paint a picture. Of course, it runs much further than that,” he points out.

In other terms, Christopher does not see songs development as a a person-sided affair, but a lively dialogue amongst male and device.

Interdisciplinary operate brings audio engineering and healthtech investigation together 

Christopher’s involvement with Prof Chen’s team happened by possibility. He was executing properly as a qualified musician and music engineer, but he was eager to extend his abilities in associated domains. “I preferred the prospect to examine and investigation from numerous angles, which includes new music, healthtech and know-how, all in one interdisciplinary field,” claims Christopher. 
While searching for likely advisors, Christopher stumbled on Prof Chen’s investigation. “After numerous in-depth discussions, we realised that our interests aligned,” he claims. “I consider my prior information and expertise in acoustics and audio technological know-how have been plenty of to convince Professor Chen to believe in me to pursue a PhD.” 
The gaps among health care apps, new music and technological innovation are broader than exactly where most of our imaginations can get us. How did he get so chill about these types of interdisciplinary explorations that may possibly have put off the more faint-of-coronary heart? He attributes his resourcefulness and potential to stay unfazed in confront of difficulties to the patterns he developed as a student at SP.

“In polytechnic, I study over and above the syllabus by utilizing on the internet finding out platforms. I consulted my lecturers on everything, volunteered to do more do the job, and formed a number of of my individual study groups,” Christopher claims. Since he could pick a study course of examine he preferred, he discovered himself owning the path he had picked out. 

In addition, he appreciated the flexibility of the polytechnic path as “each specific in the cohort was supplied the house to understand at their own pace”. This solution indirectly spurred him and his friends on to learn as a lot as they wanted, and to be generous in sharing their understanding with just one an additional. He recognized from there what it meant to consider charge of one’s learning, a lesson he intends to carry with him for a life time.

No failure, no achieve

Right now, moreover being a PhD analysis student and lecturer, he proceeds to run the enthusiasm venture that he started in his 20s: OCCD AUDIO, which creates personalized audio components, these as a white sounds generator that will help persons who do the job with sound to calibrate various products employing a constant sounds signal.  
Request him about what retains him going, and Christopher puts it down to his innate curiosity – he is not concerned to dilemma factors, problem the status quo, and take a look at new options, he suggests. 
Christopher recounts how he has experienced lots of a night buried beneath details, not realizing what was improper with the method he was taking or the experiment he was performing on. But you can’t give up, he suggests. 
That’s why, as a lecturer at numerous Institutes of Increased Learning (IHLs), he encourages his learners to “create their own secure psychological space for failing”. Somewhat than be defeated by failure, he learns lessons from it, or as he puts it in techspeak, “it is critical to be able to measure the parameters that caused this failure, and not just watch it as a person section of a binary outcome”. 

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