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Björn Hansson - Rats and depression

Björn Hansson - Rats and depression

The project consists of mapping the communication of rats in order to identify the meaning of certain sounds and see if this is an indicator of their mental state. I’ve been working during the spring with this as my Bachelors project at the suggestion of the Psychiatric Neuromodulation Unit at Lund University. It‘s highly motivating as it allows me to use my great interest in technology to solve a problem without a clear solution!

I’m a student at Lund University who just finished my third year studying Biomedical Engineering. I’ve been working as a salesman at Skånska Byggvaror AB for construction products in addition to providing support for these products. I’ve also been working at Tetra Pak where the work consisted of developing new testing methods.

The work will consist of improving upon the current proof-of-concept models’ accuracy and usability.  It will also consist of contacting companies working with ultrasonic equipment in order to see if it is possible to cooperate with them and create a fully functional model.

By the end of the summer the goal is having a model that clearly demonstrates the viability of the method. This means showing that it works from a technical standpoint but also that it has a simple and intuitive interface so it can be used without extensive instruction. Such a model will hopefully make it possible to receive further investments into the project in order to create a product ready for market.

Björn Hansson - Rats and depression #2


So far I have applied various signal processing methods in order to separate different signals from one another. The array of microphones used has also been increased from 4 microphones to 8. Trials have been made with arrays of varying configuration with various methods.

I have also looked into the possibilities with high-frequency microphones and what it would cost to invest in an array consisting of these in order to do live trials on rats.

Testing has not yet produced results satisfactory enough to motivate investing into high-frequency equipment and do live trials. It has been difficult to establish a satisfactory accuracy in locating simulated rats positions in trials were headphones simulated a rat making sounds, especially in 3-dimensions.

When the accuracy is high enough high-frequency equipment seems to be available at prices making an investment into these possible in order to create a true proof of concept model.

The project will consist of trying to find a configuration of microphones working with required accuracy. If this is not found within a short timespan another more advanced method called independent component analysis (ICA) will be investigated as an alternative. Focus will be entirely on having a technically functioning prototype since this will be necessary for securing further investments. If there is time provided the interface may be adjusted to be simple and understandable and used without extensive knowledge.

Björn Hansson - Rats and depression # 3


It has been a very liberating and at times daunting experience that has provided me with a lot of insights into both the advantages and disadvantages to being completely in charge. My feelings have been in a cycle of ups and downs as both expected and unexpected hurdles are discovered and subsequently overcome.

There has always been a constant pressure to make progress and it has been frustrating when things were taking much longer than expected or simply not working out due to running into unexpected problems. After overcoming these obstacles these feelings are instead replaced with great satisfaction and motivation for continuing the project when seeing the fruit of your labour.

More or less everything but the basic premise was eventually scrapped as the project continued due to unexpected difficulties that forced me to find new solutions. However the basic premise of the technology seems to become fulfilled in time for the project end providing a base for future endeavours. Much time, energy and effort has gone into this and I intend to see it to conclusion.

Structure, planning and documentation were often neglected in favour of instead focusing on the “fun” parts of development. This later lead to difficulties when going back to earlier work and much time was spent backtracking. Having a set schedule both made the tasks clearer and seem more surmountable when broken down into smaller segments, it allowed for the time to be spent more efficiently.

Tips for new entrepreneurs:

Always keep your mind open when working and try to find many separate ways to achieve what you want. Never be afraid to ask for help and actively discuss what you are doing with others when possible. Keep short notes of what you have done, why you have done it and what you are planning to do. Structure and planning becomes more and more important as the project expands.