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New Website Features NIST's Homey Touches

The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology is in a manner of speaking in your house right now. The technology agency is present in the structure and function of virtually every home in the country. Yet, most people have no idea what the acronym "NIST" stands for. That is why the agency has introduced a new branch of the agency's World Wide Web site called "NIST in Your House."

The goal of the new feature is to familiarize Internet visitors with NIST's many connections to everyday life. To access the new resource, go to NIST's homepage ( and look for the "little house" symbol on the right-hand side. Clicking there will take you to a graphic of a typical home containing icons of household items such as a stove, furniture and pipes.Clicking on these icons allows the user to take a self-guided tour of how NIST research and industry collaborations improve everyone's quality of life.

For example, browsers can learn:

  • How NIST specialists in optoelectronic technology have a hand in the smooth operation of your CD player;
  • How NIST research helped determine the standards for smoke detectors such as the optimum number needed, their proper placement around the home and even the level of sensitivity required (after all, you don't want them going off every time you cook);
  • How when you talk on a phone, there's a good chance that your conversation is flowing at least part of the way along hair-thin optical fibers and that NIST-developed tools made the "wiring of the world with glass" possible;
  • How NIST dental materials researchers are helping develop a metallic, mercury-free substance that may soon be used for fillings; and
  • How a NIST Standard Reference Material for plastic resin helps manufacturers ensure that the food packaging, shampoo bottles, toys, video cassettes, shoes,toothbrush handles and hundreds of other plastic items in your home are consist- ently high quality.

All of the items featured in the "NIST in Your House" site provide electronic links to other NIST online resources such as individual division, program or laboratory homepages; more detailed project descriptions; and relevant documents.

An agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards.

Released October 31, 1996, Updated January 8, 2018