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Into the Future with Metrology - The Challenges of Medical Technology


Hearing well into your old age

Perception of infrasound
People can perceive infrasound if it is loud enough – this is one of the results of PTB’s investigations in which acousticians worked together with specialists in functional magnetic resonance imaging. The mechanism behind the perception of infrasound will be the subject of future investigations.

The field of acoustics is playing a pioneering role as we head towards medical treatment tailored to the individual patient. The aim of acoustics has, for a long time, been to establish quantifiable measurement data in a distinctly individual and age-dependent area. In a European project, PTB has, for example, co-developed an ear simulator which significantly improves hearing tests of newborns and enables the users to apply specific reference hearing thresholds for all age groups. Particularly in an aging society, protecting our sense of hearing plays an increasingly important role, especially because the loss of hearing can be accompanied by a loss of social contacts and increased loneliness. Another important task is the protection against noise. The European Environment Agency classifies noise as a growing environmental problem, and the measurement of noise must comply with legal requirements. PTB is the only notified body in Germany to carry out type examinations of sound level measuring instruments according to the Measures and Verification Act and the Measures and Verification Ordinance. According to the Medical Devices Act, PTB is in charge of the uniformity of metrology and the traceability of testing equipment – also in the field of ultrasound, where PTB maintains the national standards and carries out calibrations of, for example, hydrophones. All these tasks are concerned with the safety of patients and of the users of ultrasound (for example, physicians), and with the strengthening of the existing metrological infrastructure. At the other end of the hearing spectrum – in the range of infrasound, which can be generated by various environmental factors – this infrastructure has yet to be established, and the acoustics experts still see a lot of potential for research.


Department involved
Opens internal link in current window1.6 Sound