Using mobile phones as light at night and noise measurement instruments: a validation test in real world conditions

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Exposure to noise from road traffic and industries is known to be linked to various health dysfunctions, including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and hearing loss. Exposure to artificial light at night (ALAN) is also increasingly recognized as being associated with ecosystem damage and various illnesses, including cancers, excessive weight gain and sleep disorders. However, measuring and monitoring these environmental risk factors by professional equipment are laborious and expensive, which impede large-scale research and various citizen science initiatives. In this study, we test a possibility that reliable noise and ALAN exposure estimates can be gathered using smartphones (SPs) sensors. To verify this assumption, we develop a standardized testing protocol, and use Andro-Sensor app, installed on three different Samsung Galaxy SPs–S7, S20FE5G, and SM520F,–to perform measurements of ALAN and noise in real-world conditions while comparing these measurements with measurements performed by professional (type 2) equipment–SL814 for noise and LX-1330B for illumination. The analysis of 3450 measurements, performed in two different locations in Israel, reveals that the SPs measurements and measurements performed by control instruments correlate strongly for noise (r = 0.76–0.94) and are nearly identical for ALAN (r = 0.998–0.999). The association between the two types of measurements is also found to be close to linear, with the slope of the trend line being close to 45° for ALAN and varying between 30° and 45° for noise, depending on the SPs used. Our conclusion is that the level of accuracy of ALAN measurements by SPs is greater for ALAN than for noise, which can make SPs a useful tool for large-scale ALAN studies that do not require the accuracy of professional instruments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-44
Number of pages19
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Smartphones (SPs)
  • artificial light at night (ALAN)
  • exposure assessment
  • noise
  • urban areas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology


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