Smart Device Noise Dosimetry


Principal Investigator: Rick Neitzel

Doctoral Student: Ben Roberts

Sources of Funding: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant

Description: The proliferation of smart devices (phones, tablets, etc.) has given people the ability to use applications “apps” to measure noise exposure. Working with researchers at NIOSH this project aims to comprehensively evaluate the ability of smart devices (in this case iPods) to measure noise exposure in a laboratory and occupational setting. Completion of this project could greatly decrease the cost and technical barriers to making accurate occupational and environmental noise measurements.

What we have found:

  • There is a wide range in the quality of sound measurement applications available.
  • The default internal microphones do not provide reliable or accurate noise measurements.
  • Using cheap commercially available external microphones allow smart devices to make steady-state noise measurements within 2.0 dBA of a reference noise level.
  • These external microphones do not perform as well when measuring intermittent noise.
  • In a cohort of maintenance workers it was found that the iPods on average calculated an 8-hour time weighted averages (TWA) 2.6 dBA higher than the noise dosimeters; in a cohort of office workers the iPods on average calculated a 8-hr TWA 0.7 dBA higher than the noise dosimeters.
  • Our project has found that is possible to use an iOS smart device to accurately measure occupational noise exposures under certain conditions.


Benjamin Roberts, Chucri Kardous & Richard Neitzel (2016) Improving the accuracy of smart devices to measure noise exposure, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, 13:11, 840-846, DOI: 10.1080/15459624.2016.1183014