Liopa’s lip-reading app is being tested on US patients

11 Jan 2023

Image: © Marco/

The company’s SRAVI app analyses the lip movements of patients to decipher what they are trying to say, to help them communicate better with heathcare workers.

Liopa’s lip-reading app is being trialed by US researchers to test its effectiveness on patients who can’t use their voice.

The Belfast medtech has developed AI-powered lip-reading tech that aims to help patients communicate more effectively with healthcare workers and family.

The company said its app – SRAVI – is currently being tested on patients who have undergone a total laryngectomy (TL), which is a complete removal of the voice box. This procedure is potentially lifesaving for patients who have advanced laryngeal cancer.

However, TL results in the total removal of the patient’s natural voice, adding a new difficulty in communicating with others. Research has shown that 40pc of TL patients withdraw socially and up to 30pc having experienced anxiety and depression.

The SRAVI app analyses the lip movements of patients to decipher what they are trying to say. Liopa said the app can understand more than 40 phrases at a time that are useful for ICU patients.

The app is currently being tested by a team at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The feasibility study began last October and will continue for the first half of 2023.

“We are collaborating on this important research to see how much our patients may benefit from this technology, and we look forward to the ongoing collaboration with the Liopa team,” said Dr Michael C Toph, one of the study leads. “We hope to improve the overall ability of TL patients to communicate post-surgically.”

Liopa said the feasibility trial will be followed by a larger study, which will be conducted across multiple sites in the US.

In 2021, the start-up secured a contract for SRAVI to be used across inpatient units at the Royal Preston Hospital in England.

Liopa, a spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and its Centre for Security Technologies, received a “significant investment” from the UK government’s Future Fund in 2020 for R&D.

It has also been supported by QUB’s commercialisation arm QUBIS, as well as Invest NI’s Access to Finance funds and Techstart NI.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic