auditory alarms




On March 12, 2022, Michael Schutz had a radio interview with CBC on the show Quirks and Quarks with Bob McDonald.

“Hospitals can be pretty noisy places. Medical devices, in particular, make quite a racket. And while their alarms are essential, perhaps they don’t have to be so unpleasant. Michael Schutz, a professor of music cognition at McMaster University, believes that we can use what we know about music to improve the sonic environment in hospitals – and maybe save lives in the process.”

To listen to the whole interview, check it out here.


On June 16, 2022, The Boston Globe published a paper on our work regarding auditory alarms in hospital settings. 

“We found that participants were able to clearly recognize an alert’s meaning regardless of whether it was presented as a beep or a more complex sound. Yet they overwhelmingly rated the music-inspired alerts as less annoying,” says Michael Schutz.

To read the full article, check it out here.

For details, see our recent academic publications on this topic:


pdf Foley, L., Schlesinger, J., & Schutz, M. (2022). More detectable, less annoying: Temporal variation in amplitude envelope and spectral content improves auditory interface efficacy. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America151(5), 3189-3196.
webpage Sreetharan, S., Schlesinger, J. & Schutz, M. (2021) Decaying amplitude envelopes reduce alarm annoyance: Exploring new approaches to improving auditory interfaces. Applied Ergonomics, 96.
webpage Foley, L., Anderson, C. & Schutz, M. (2020). Re-Sounding Alarms: Designing Ergonomic Auditory Interfaces by Embracing Musical Insights. Healthcare, 8(4), 389.
pdf Sreetharan, S., & Schutz, M. (2019). Improving Human-Computer Interface Design through Application of Basic Research on Audiovisual Integration and Amplitude Envelope. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction.
pdf Schutz, M. (2019). Acoustic Structure and Musical Function: Musical Notes Informing Auditory Research. The Oxford Handbook of Music and Neuroscience. Michael Thaut and Donald Hodges, Eds.
pdf Gillard, J. & Schutz, M. (2016). Composing alarms: Considering the musical aspects of auditory alarm design. Neurocase, 22(6), 566-576.