Exploring the Effectiveness of Haptic Alarm Displays for Critical Care Environments


Noise in critical care units, in particular, from patient monitor alarms, is harmful for clinicians and patients alike. This has motivated research aimed at shifting the delivery of physiological vital sign information and annunciation of alarm events from visual and auditory devices to haptic transducers. We compare performance in perceiving and identifying the specific type and level of a vital sign that has entered a high or low state, i.e., an alarm event, using several designs of a vibrotactile display, against that of the traditional auditory alarm in conjunction with a graphical patient monitor. A distractor activity was used to simulate competing task demands in the clinical environment. Responses were assessed with respect to response time and accuracy. With sufficient anatomical separation of the actuators, certain vibrotactile information rendering strategies demonstrated performance that was not significantly different from that of the baseline condition, both in response time and accuracy. We conclude that vibrotactile delivery of patient vitals can support alarm-state vital sign identification competitive with graphical and auditory alarm display conditions, without significantly impacting performance on a parallel attention-demanding activity. This suggests the possibility of improving high-impact healthcare environments by replacing disturbing auditory alarms with vibrotactile information delivery to clinicians.

2020 IEEE Haptics Symposium (HAPTICS)
Antoine Weill-Duflos
Antoine Weill-Duflos
Director of Research and Product Integration

My research interests include haptic, mechatronics, micro-robotic and hci.