IRSST - Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Development of a Real-Time Acoustic Imaging System to Locate Noise Sources in Workplaces


In Quebec, between 287,000 and 359,000 workers are exposed every day to high noise levels that endanger their hearing. Occupational hearing loss remains a major problem, and it is important to continue efforts to reduce workers’ exposure to noise.

The first step in noise reduction consists in identifying and ranking sources of noise. This step is carried out with a sound level meter or sound intensity probe. However, these measurement tools are limited to sources located close to the exposed person and provide only local information. Thus, measurement must be repeated for every potential source, which is a long, tedious and disruptive process for a company.

The most appropriate instrument to identify and rank acoustic sources is the microphone antenna. Placed at the workstation, it can obtain an overall picture of noise sources around the worker in a single measurement.

The project researchers have developed a spherical microphone antenna, equipped with a 360° camera. However, this prototype is not optimal for use in the field, since low-frequency, tonal and impulse noise sources are not identified satisfactorily. Moreover, the use of this kind of antenna is reserved for acoustic imaging experts and scientists.

The objective of this project is to develop an acoustic imaging system that is easy to use in workplaces, including a spherical platform for microphones and cameras and onboard electronics allowing for signal acquisition and processing.

This system will enable acoustic engineers or workplace prevention officers to quickly identify and rank acoustic sources around a person working in a noisy environment.

Additional Information

Type: Project
Number: 2018-0026
Status: Ongoing
  • Thomas Padois (École de technologie supérieure)
  • Olivier Doutres (École de technologie supérieure)
  • Franck Sgard (IRSST)
  • Hugues Nélisse (IRSST)
  • Alain Berry (Université de Sherbrooke)
  • Nicolas Quaegebeur (Université de Sherbrooke)
  • François Grondin (Université de Sherbrooke)