Blind Source Separation for Acoustic Foetal Heartbeat

Contact: A/Prof Paul Teal

All midwives in New Zealand and in many other countries own and use a device known as a SonicAid. This uses Doppler ultrasound to detect movement of the foetal heart inside a pregnant woman so that the foetal heart rate can be determined. This can be important in pregnancy, and even more so during birth itself. This project aims to create a device similar to the SonicAid, but without the use of ultrasound.

Signals which can be used for detecting foetal heartbeat, are the foetal electrocardiogram (ECG), and the foetal phonocardiogram (sounds). This project is focused mainly on using the phonocardiogram. Blind source separation (BSS) techniques such as Independent Component Analysis (ICA) and Nonnegative Matrix Factorisation (NMF), and adaptations of these for convolutive mixtures are being used and developed to separate the foetal heartbeat from the maternal hearbeat and other interferning signals.