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Mobile Apps | Research/studies

NIOSH: Some sound-measurement smartphone apps are accurate

May 6, 2014

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Washington – Certain smartphone and tablet applications designed to measure sound levels are accurate and reliable enough to assess occupational noise exposures, according to a new NIOSH study.

Researchers evaluated more than 130 apps for Apple’s operating system iOS and 62 Android apps, but only 10 iOS apps and four Android apps met the selection criteria for testing. Of the apps tested, researchers determined that some of the Apple apps had sound level measurements within plus or minus 2 dBA, which fall within national standards and occupational guidelines for accuracy. The Android apps did not demonstrate the functionality needed for occupational noise assessments, they said.

In a NIOSH blog post, the study’s lead researchers suggested smartphone sound apps could be used by industrial hygienists and other occupational safety and health managers to make quick spot measurements to determine if noise is at hazardous levels.

The study was published in the April issue of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

NIOSH researchers measure the accuracy of smartphone sound meter apps in a reverberant noise chamber at the agency's acoustics testing laboratory.