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Can you introduce yourself?

Kees: Hi, My name is Kees Broekmeulen and I’m currently doing my MSc Integrated Product Design with a Medisign specialization.

Zoe: Hi, I am Zoe, a 2nd year Master student in Design for Interaction at TU Delft.

Why did you decide to do a (graduation) project at Critical Alarms Lab?

Kees: My project is all about providing a safer work environment for operation room staff concerning sounds that are made during surgery and the usage of tools varying from communication to the risks that can occur when handling surgical instruments. Communication and tool sounds take up a large part of this project and especially its research and testing phase. This is the main reason that I asked Elif as my project chair and from there things got rolling. Next to that this is a step out of the ICU and therefore a nice addition and maybe expansion of the Critical Alarm Lab.

Zoe: Sound and especially how sound impacts our health has always been really interesting to me. I got in touch with the lab because I already wrote a paper about “how people with a single-sided deafness experience sound“, which was part of one of my courses last year. That project encouraged me to dive deeper into the topic of sound and how sound impacts our health.

What is your project about?

Kees: My project is on the sounds produced within hip replacement surgery and they way they effect communication and the surgical procedure.

Zoe: I am looking into the complex sound environment of operation rooms. I am currently investigating how the listeners (the patient, the nurses and the surgeon) interact, use and listen to sound in the same sonic environment and how they differ in their listening attentions.

Why do you care about this topic?

Kees: As an IPD student with a great interest for the medical industry and healthcare in general, I consider projects within this context challenging, but inspiring at the same time. Inspiring because the healthcare sector is rapidly changing and is in need of innovation. A challenge because of its habits, hierachy, rules and regulations have to be taken into account. I have set up this project, because of my interest for surgery/medicine and the the possibility to help two levels of users, in this case the surgeon and the patients who eventually benefit.

Zoe: I think that especially in industrial design the impact of sound on people is often underestimated or at least not enough attention has yet been given to it. I think that “hearing” is one of the most sensitive and powerful senses we have. Sound can influence our moods and emotion, can even influence our physiological and psychological health in either positive but also in a negative way. Operation rooms are such a complex sound environment and the staff has to be always 100% focused. Optimizing such a high-performance environment is a challenge that I would like to take on.

What do you hope to achieve with this project?

Kees: I hope to accomplish my set project goals. In my case to come up with a new instrument that will provides surgeon and staff a better alternative to the current surgical tools concerning the sounds produced and a safer use-ability during hip replacement surgery

Zoe: I hope to contribute to a better understanding and action-taking of dealing and managing the complex sound environment in the operation room.

What surprised you most in doing this project so far?

Kees: That a healthcare or medical industry solution doesn’t need to be really innovative, because a combination of several other industry principles or tools may solve a problem easier than imagined.  

Zoe: Well, I don’t know what I found most surprising. But the most exciting and insightful experience for me was to observe first hand knowledge on the different listeners in the operation room itself. I don’t know what I imagined the surgery procedures to be like, but I was definitely amazed by all the things I observed and I could have never found so many rich insight if I would have just read about it.