You are logged in as Log out

Canarybox Operating Room Music Player

by Alistair MacDonald, MD

Canarybox automatically mutes music in the operating room during critical events, allowing the surgical team to more easily communicate and focus on the safety of the patient.

Missoula, MT Operating Room

Share this project and help them win!

All Team Company Patients Physicians Mission Supporters

About this project

The problem we solve:
Most operating rooms play music even though they are already very noisy with reverberating walls, powered orthopedic equipment, warmers, suction, clanging metal instruments and multiple loud conversations (masks preclude lip reading). Hearing important alarm sounds and tones from the anesthesia monitor can be quite difficult at times. In addition, many of the staff are desensitized to the alarm tones and suffer from alarm fatigue.

About our solution:
Canarybox interfaces with the anesthesia monitor and the music player. If a patients vital signs become abnormal it automatically mutes the music in the operating room. Turning off the music is an effective way to get everybody's attention and is in itself an implicit call for silence so the entire team can hear alarm tones, communicate, and focus on the safety of the patient. We now have cars that don't allow music unless everybody is wearing their seatbelt, we can easily have music in the operating room that is more intelligent and patient-centric. The picture below shows an image of the interface that sets limits for patient oxygen saturation. There are yellow zones for a partial mute, and red zones for a full mute. Also there are programmable delays to minimize nuisance triggers.
Progress to date: I have a working prototype that interfaces with anesthesia monitors from three different companies. An IRB approved clinical trial at Saint Patrick Hospital in Missoula is underway. Dr. Joe Schlesinger from Vanderbilt, an expert in alarms and patient safety, visited Missoula this month to see the project and took a prototype back to his facility. Dr. Robert Stoelting, the president of the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation, saw a video demonstration and invited me to an APSF conference later this year on Distractions in the Operating Room. One of our main journals, Anesthesia and Analgesia, published a letter from me on this topic last September with a response that anesthesiologists need to regain control of the acoustic environment in the operating room. The image below shows the unit working in the operating room with a Philips MP70 monitor.

About Our Team

Dr. Alistair MacDonald, MD
Anesthesiology, Practicing Physician
Location: Missoula, Montana
Medical school: University of Washington
Bio: I grew up in the midwest and went to medical school and residency in Seattle before being lucky enough to get a job in Missoula, Montana where I've worked and lived for the past 16 years. I love the challenges of my job and thinking about how technology allows us to do amazing things. When I'm not at work I enjoy hiking, backpacking, biking, fishing and rafting. I sometimes enjoy playing mediocre guitar.
Practice: Missoula Anesthesiology, PC
Hospital Affiliation: Saint Patrick Hospital
Title: MD
Twitter: @alistairmissoula
LinkedIn: macdonald-alistair-69243911a

About Our Company

Canary Sound Design, LLC
Location: Missoula, Montana
Product stage: proto
Sales: Working on it
Employees: 1-2

How We Help Patients

Patients in the crowd - we all hope our hospitals function with the same high reliability as the airline or nuclear industries and have the same obsession with hard-wiring safety into every aspect of their systems. Noise pollution and alarm fatigue are such problems in hospitals that the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations made it a top priority for 2015. Canarybox is a novel solution that addresses both of these issues. It doesn't add additional noise to the excess noise in the medical environment, it reduces it.

How We Help Physicians

Music in the operating room has been shown to have benefits for surgeons, but has also been shown to cause stress among anesthesia providers and impair communication. Canarybox makes music in the operating room safer for the patient by reducing unnecessary ambient noise at times when our machines are telling us the patient is in trouble.

Challenge Mission

Mission: The Internet of Things allows us more easily than ever to create affordable and novel solutions to problems. Canarybox could serve as a case study of how this can be done.
Use of funds: I would use the funds to pursue FDA classification and approval as well as meet the industry standards for medical grade compliance.
Intellectual Property Status: A provisional patent was filed in Dec, 2014 and a non-provisional patent was filed Dec, 2015. Status pending.
Patent Link: not yet available.
FDA Status: The FDA device determination center couldn't give me a classification so recommended I file a 513g. I'm awaiting a small business determination number before filing.
Personal Message: The mission of Canary Sound Design is to bring an intelligent patient-centric music system to a complex high-risk work environment. As a sound system that ‘listens’ to patient vital signs, Canarybox uses advanced algorithms to silence music during critical events that demand a quiet environment. Canarybox is designed to be an asset to hospitals, physicians and patients. - Thank you for your support!


  • image
    04/30/2016 Alex Fair - Investor

    Followed the project.

  • image
    04/30/2016 Dr. Alistair MacDonald - Physician

    Liked the project.













Alistair MacDonald, MD
University of Washington

See Full Proflle
Contact Us