Search impact stories
Video Content: 
0
July 2018

Sounding the right alarm in a noisy ICU

At a glance
The intern

Archit Matta, Indian Institute of Technology—Delhi

Hosted by

Professor Jérémie Voix, École de technologie supérieure, Head of the NSERC-EERS Industrial Research Chair in In-Ear Technologies (CRITIAS); in collaboration with Professor Joseph Schlesinger from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Tennessee, USA

The research

Development of a ‘smart’ earplug that filters ICU patient monitor alerts to prevent alarm fatigue

For nurses in the Montreal Royal Victoria Hospital’s intensive care unit, as in any ICU, an alert from a patient’s monitor can mean life or death. But with dozens of monitors emitting unique signals, the cacophony of beeps can be disturbing. How can a nurse stay attuned to the sounds they most need to hear?

Now, a research team at the École de technologie supérieure is developing a technology-based solution to help nurses and doctors distinguish important signals in the ICU: a ‘smart’ earplug for hospital care practitioners. This summer, they’ve engaged an international research intern — through a Mitacs Globalink internship — to help bring the technology one step closer to a care unit near you.

Mitacs intern Archit Matta explains, “My professor’s lab is working with a local company and a professor from Tennessee to develop a smart, digital earplug that captures all ambient sounds and filters out unwanted signals, so the nurse will only hear the alerts that are important for their patient.”

Archit is spending his summer developing and testing an algorithm that allows the smart earplug to distinguish between different alarms. Hearing only the alerts significant to them will prevent nurses from experiencing ‘alarm fatigue’ and let them direct their attention more appropriately to the right signal.

For his part, Archit is enjoying a highly collaborative environment at his lab. “I feel extremely lucky and grateful to Mitacs to be part of this internship. The people I’m working with at ETS are so talented and the research is fascinating. I could see myself applying the things I’ve learned here at ETS to my schooling back home in India, too.

“I am also grateful that my supervisor, Professor Voix, has shown me all aspects of the research. For example, we got to visit the Royal Victoria Hospital and talk to nurses and doctors who would use the technology. It’s really nice to be working on something that has the possibility to affect lives.”

With the support of the ETS team’s critical research, including Archit’s algorithm, the partner company, EERS Global Technologies, hopes to commercialize a product in short term.


Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec for their support of the Globalink research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Globalink research internship program also receives support from the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, and the Government of Saskatchewan.

In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with the following international partners to support Globalink: Universities Australia; Brazil's Unidersidade de Sao Paulo; the China Scholarship Council; Campus France; the German Academic Exchange Service; Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education and Tecnológico de Monterrey; Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education; Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord; and the Ukrainian-Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko.

The student and his advisor would like to express gratitude to Drs. Thierry Daloze and Thomas Schricker from Montreal Royal Victoria Hospital for their contribution to the research in this story.

Photo from left to right: Archit Matta, Mitacs Globalink research intern; Dr. Thierry Daloze, Montreal Royal Victoria Hospital; and Professor Jérémie Voix, École de technologie supérieure.