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Mitacs Accelerate stimulating research and development in small businesses

Overexposure to loud sounds can cause temporary and possibly permanent hearing loss. Although this is largely associated with people working in noisy environments, it can also be the consequence of recreational noise, affecting people of all ages, especially teenagers and young adults.

Sonomax Technologies Inc. is a Montreal-based business that specializes in manufacturing hearing protection products. The company developed a unique type of high-performance, custom earphones that provide noise isolation with hearing protection. This allows users to listen to their portable music player at a lower volume adjust to compensate for noise in their surroundings. But before introducing this new product to the market, the company needed to go through the prototyping stage.   

Sonomax connected with Kuba Mazur, a graduate student in Electrical Engineering at École de téchnologie supérieure (ETS) through Rebecca Reich, Business Development Director at Mitacs. Under the supervision of Professor Jérémie Voix from the department of Mechanical Engineering, Kuba undertook research that focused on creating a prototype utilizing the new custom-fitted earphones. “I developed the Auditory Research Platform to measure sound pressure levels throughout the day, inside the earphones and determine the safe amount of time one can be in a noisy environment, or listen to their music player without damaging their hearing,” says Kuba.

For Michael Turcot, vice president of Research and Development at Sonomax, Mitacs Accelerate sped up the prototyping process considerably. “Kuba’s research expertise coupled with the Mitacs funding enabled us to transform the design concept of our product into a refined, working prototype that we can present to potential clients.”

Unlike other products on the market, Sonomax’s new prototype is not only designed to fit in each individual’s distinctive “earprint”, but it also has dual microphones that monitor the sound pressure levels throughout the day.

Following Kuba’s internship, Sonomax patented its new, high-performance, custom-fitted earphones and plans to commercialize this innovative product in the near future.

Mr. Turcot highly recommends Mitacs Accelerate to all small businesses that are looking to undertake research and development. “Thanks to this program, our company has seen long-term benefits of this product much earlier than expected”. 

Mitacs gratefully acknowledges the Government of Canada, the Networks of Centres of Excellence's Industrial Research and Development Internship program and the Government of Québec through Le Fonds de recherche du Québec and le Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur, Recherche, Science et Technologie for their support of Mitacs-Accelerate in the province.