Death by Beep?
Bad sound design costs lives



The Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI) lists Top Medical Hazards each year.  Did you know that medical alarms have appeared on this list four times in a decade?  Twice in the number spot? Here Dr. Schutz gives an engaging overview of the problems with poorly designed sounds ubiquitous in today’s medical devices.  He explains how the MAPLE Lab is actively contributing to efforts to improve the sounds used in these lifesaving devices.  

This TedX talk prompted interest from our local news station, and you can find their coverage here.


This talk was also covered by a prominent research blog, Research2Reality You can also find an overview of this research in Scientia Global

As well as The Boston Globe
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Dr. Schutz’s research on auditory alarms was also discussed on Tech Talks, led by MPP Chris Glover (Spadina-Fort York)


Dr. Schutz also met with voice actor Jodi Krangle on her podcast Audio Branding to discuss our alarms project.

Part 1 Part 2

If you are interested in a deeper dive into these topics, we encourage you to check out some of our following papers: 

Lab publications forming the basis of this talk:


Sreetharan, S., Schlesinger, J. & Schutz, M. (2021) Decaying amplitude envelopes reduce alarm annoyance: Exploring new approaches to improving auditory interfaces. Applied Ergonomics, 96.


Foley, L., Anderson, C. & Schutz, M. (2020). Re-Sounding Alarms: Designing Ergonomic Auditory Interfaces by Embracing Musical Insights. Healthcare, 8(4), 389.


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.


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.


Gillard, J. & Schutz, M. (2016). Composing alarms: Considering the musical aspects of auditory alarm design. Neurocase, 22(6), 566-576.