Hearing protection might seem like a one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s not. Earplugs and earmuffs that aren’t appropriately sized for an individual can fail at protecting the user’s ears from damaging decibel levels. 3M illustrated this point with its E-A-Rfit Validation System demonstration. We spent some time in 3M's booth to see just how it works.

Using specially probed earplugs that are identical to the ones you might use, the E-A-Rfit can evaluate your own personal attenuation rating. The probed earplug is inserted into the ear and then hooked up to a microphone that activates a sound inside and outside the ear canal. Software measures the amount of sound entering your ear canal and comes up with a decibel protection rating personalized to you and the hearing protection model you are tested with. The system works with earmuffs as well.

E-A-Rfit was marketed at the World of Concrete (WOC) show for large commercial and industrial companies that are required by law to keep workers’ hearing health in check. The system is pricey, though the company did say that it could eventually work its way into retailers, which will allow you to test your rating before you commit to a particular style of hearing protection.

The video below highlights the system’s features and benefits.