Take a sneak peek at the new NIST.gov and let us know what you think!
(Please note: some content may not be complete on the beta site.).

View the beta site
NIST logo
Bookmark and Share

Acceleration, Vibration, and Acoustics


The Acceleration, Vibration, and Acoustics (AVA) Project advances the measurement science, develops standards, and provides calibration services for acceleration, vibration, and acoustic sensors and systems that use them.

Technical Goals:

  • Provide world-class calibration services for accelerometers and microphones.
  • Develop and standardize test methods for new generations of intelligent hearing aids.
  • Advance the measurement science for test and calibration methods for MEMS accelerometers and microphones.
  • Facilitate the development of industry standards and accreditation for testing accelerometers and microphones.
  • Lead the development of the MEMS Technology Roadmap (published through iNEMI and the ITRS in alternating years), working together with the MEMS Industry Group, to document the critical metrology needs for future MEMS sensor technologies, including accelerometers and microphones.
  • Support the metrology needs of the military and sports equipment manufacturers as they seek to protect soldiers and athletes from shock-related injuries.


Our program is undergoing major changes by responding to the needs of new Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) sensor technologies. Market studies report phenomenal manufacturing growth in MEMS, with a current world market of over $15B, and a 13% compound annual growth rate that projects the market to grow to $22B by 2018. Working in partnership with the MEMS Industry Group (MIG), our technology roadmap reveals that testing and calibration requirements for accelerometers and microphones are becoming more complex and demanding as more functions are integrated with them. In the last year we have updated our accelerometer calibration service, worked together with MIG to establish a new IEEE standards committee to develop MEMS device testing standards, and worked with the manufacturers and the Veterans Administration (VA) to develop new test methods for hearing aids. We are developing a new shock testing program that will support the needs of the military and sports equipment manufacturers.

High frequency shaker used with the Precision Vibration Calibration System capable of sweeping the vibration frequency from 5 Hz to 50 kHz

Figure 1. High frequency shaker used with the Primary Vibration Calibration System, capable of sweeping the vibration frequency from 5 Hz to 50 kHz.

Major Accomplishments:


  • Opened for service a new Primary Vibration Calibration System (PVCS) with 5X better uncertainty than the systems that were replaced.
  • iNEMI MEMS Roadmap published in collaboration with MIG.


  • Developed the requirements and purchased a new Precision Vibration Calibration System (PVCS).
  • Established a new IEEE MEMS Testing Standards Committee and published our first documentary standard the same year, winning recognition of the IEEE Standards Association Emerging Technologies Award.
  • Published the MEMS Chapter of the ITRS Roadmap. Began work on the ITRS2.0 White Paper. Led the preparation of and submitted the iNEMI MEMS Roadmap for Review.
  • Completed measurements (feedback suppression and adaptive directionality) on sample hearing aids provided by the VA that are integral for procurements and multi-year contracts.


  • Worked with the MEMS Industry Group to develop Standard Sensor Performance Definitions for MEMS devices, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and pressure and temperature sensors.
  • Worked with the VA Hearing Aid Contracts Integrated Product Team and Technical Team to develop performance tests for "Hearing Aids and Wireless Systems," that are based on NIST measurement procedures.
  • Formed and led a new ANSI/ASA Hearing Aid Working Group S3/WG48 Subgroup on Hearing Aid Digital Feedback Suppression Measurement.
The Precision Vibration Calibration System used for calibration of accelerometers
Figure 2. The Primary Vibration Calibration System used for calibration of accelerometers

Lead Organizational Unit:



The AVA Project works with national metrology laboratories and commercial calibration laboratories, accelerometer and microphone device manufacturers, industry groups, government research laboratories, and standards organizations in order to fulfill its mission. These collaborations include, but are not limited to: 

  • MEMS Industry Group (160 member companies)
  • iNEMI, ITRS (Industry Roadmaps)
  • IEEE SA, ISO, ASA, SEMI (Standards Organizations)
  • NIST Force and Pressure Groups, CNST (NIST Internal)
  • Army Research Labs and Veterans Administration (Government Agencies)
  • Sports Legacy Institute and Sports Equipment Manufacturers (Systems Testing Labs)

Facilities/Tools Used:

  • Primary Vibration Calibration System for accelerometers and vibrometers
  • Precision Goniometer Calibration System for MEMS accelerometers
  • Anechoic chambers for hearing aid testing
  • Microphone pressure response reciprocity calibration systems
  • Accelerometer Digital Acquisition System (DAS) Performance Testing System
  • Ultrasonic Power Testing System


Michael Gaitan, Project Leader
Richard Allen
Randall Wagner
Jon Geist
Colleen Hood


Yaqub Afridi
Sunita Srivastava
Steven Fick
Beverly Payne


Randy Wagner prepares a standardized manikin for hearing aid testing in NIST’s anechoic chamber.

Figure 3. NIST Large Anechoic Chamber for testing hearing aids.


Michael Gaitan

100 Bureau Drive, M/S 8120
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8120