Mitacs and NRC-IRAP Award for Commercialization
ÉTS postdoctoral researcher Rachel BouserhalFriday, November 30, 2018
ÉTS is proud to announce that MITACS and NRC-IRAP Award for Commercialization have recognized Rachel Bouserhal, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, for her contribution to occupational health and safety.
The young researcher developed an algorithm capable of improving the way voice signals are processed to enhance communication between workers in noisy industrial sites. Her research has been commercialized by EERS Global Technologies of Montréal within its SonX product, an advanced digital hearing protection device.
Ms. Bouserhal is also part of the NSERC-EERS Industrial Research Chair in In-Ear Technologies, headed by ÉTS Professor Jérémie Voix. Before joining the group, she completed a bachelor of science and a master’s in electrical engineering (2011) at the highly regarded Michigan State University (MSU).
She then moved to Montréal to pursue her research interests with Professor Voix and obtained her Ph.D. from ÉTS in June 2016. During her studies, she worked on a headset for workers in high-noise environments, a device that both protects their hearing and allows them to communicate with one another. Once completed, this project will provide a virtual radio acoustical environment where speech is captured from inside the ear, denoised and enhanced to be transmitted to a specific radius of listeners. This radius will be based on the speaker’s vocal effort and background noise level, thus limiting exposure to excessive noise and preventing occupational deafness.
ÉTS would like to congratulate Rachel Bouserhal for her work, which promotes ÉTS and its valuable partner EERS Global Technologies Inc. here in Canada and abroad, while helping to fight the problem of occupational deafness.
The occupational deafness problem
The Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) reported, again this year, an increase in the number of cases of occupational deafness, and stressed the prevalence of this health issue. According to the INSPQ, there is every reason to believe that the number of cases will continue to increase in coming years given the significant number of workers still exposed to factors causing deafness. In 2008, some 287,000 to 359,000 workers were exposed to noise levels high enough to make it difficult to speak with someone one metre away, even if shouting. In addition to causing deafness, high-noise environments may also increase the risk of high blood pressure, workplace accidents and heart attacks and, for pregnant workers, result in low-weight babies.
According to the INSPQ, the overall cost of noise to the worker’s compensation system in 2007 was $35.4 million in Québec with the social cost of the problem being even greater.
Rachel Bouserhal at the MITACS award ceremony held on November 27, 2018 in Ottawa
Interview with Rachel Bouserhal on CBC HomeRun on November 28, 2018
NSERC-EERS Industrial Research Chair in In-Ear Technologies