Apple is reportedly working on incorporating new health-focused functionalities in its next-generation AirPods. The tech giant is aiming to deliver enhanced capabilities in hearing impairment detection, correction, and body temperature monitoring.
Integrating Health Features
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in his latest Power On newsletter, the new features may include a hearing test conducted by your AirPods. Currently, AirPods support audiogram profiles which iOS uses to adjust the earbuds’ output based on hearing loss. These profiles are generated through third-party applications like Mimi, which means Apple’s integration of an inbuilt test would signify a shift from third-party dependency. Further, Apple is said to be investigating ways to position and market the AirPods Pro as an over-the-counter hearing aid, following recent FDA facilitations for Americans to acquire such options. The company has reportedly hired engineers with expertise in traditional hearing aids to work on this initiative.
Body Temperature Measurement
Another proposed feature for the AirPods is the ability to gauge body temperature. This is an extension of the technology introduced with the Watch Series 8 and Watch Ultra, where a built-in temperature sensor was introduced. A sensor placed in the ear canal is likely to provide a more accurate reading than one on the wrist, providing added value for users concerned with precise health monitoring.
Transition to USB-C
On another front, Gurman reports that Apple plans to roll out the AirPods Pro with a USB-C charging case, marking a move away from the existing Lighting. This change aligns with the EU’s new common charging standard. While this transition is ongoing, Gurman advises against expecting the immediate launch of completely new AirPods Pro hardware.
Software Upgrades and Pricing
In the meantime, Apple has announced several new software features set to debut with iOS 17. These upgrades include a new button press to mute yourself during calls and improvements in device switching. Additionally, there is speculation that Apple might permanently reduce the price of its second-generation AirPods from $129 to $99 to remain competitive against cheaper alternatives from brands like Samsung, Sony, and Amazon.
Gurman cautions that these new features could still be several months or even years away. However, the continual integration of health-focused tech and the prospect of enhanced audiological assistance indicates a promising future for Apple’s AirPods. Whether they will eventually become integral health-monitoring devices remains to be seen, but the potential for these new developments is certainly significant.
Impact on the Hearing Aid Market
The potential transformation of Apple’s AirPods Pro into an over-the-counter hearing aid could shake up the existing hearing aid market. As countries like the US are currently encouraging growth in this sector with their latest FDA guidelines, the entrance of Apple into this space could be significant. With Apple’s brand recognition and reputation for high-quality products, a hearing aid feature in AirPods Pro could present a major disruption to the established players in the hearing aid industry.
Positioning AirPods as Health Devices
Apple’s focus on integrating advanced health-monitoring functionalities into the AirPods line is indicative of its strategic positioning of these devices as more than just audio accessories. The earbuds are gradually evolving into comprehensive health devices, complementing the capabilities of the Apple Watch. This demonstrates Apple’s commitment to leveraging technology to improve health and well-being, aligning with growing consumer demand for tech-enabled health-tracking solutions.
The Future of Apple’s AirPods
While the timeline for these features is uncertain, their inclusion in future AirPods could revolutionize the wearable tech industry. The potential for AirPods to serve as an advanced health tracking device, capable of measuring body temperature, assessing hearing capabilities, and possibly serving as an over-the-counter hearing aid, adds substantial value to the device. This could broaden the appeal of the AirPods, making them more than a premium audio product but also an important tool for health and wellness monitoring.
Apple has a reputation for pushing the boundaries of technology, and its approach to the AirPods reflects this ethos. By integrating health-focused features, Apple continues to position itself at the forefront of the tech-health intersection. The development and integration of these new features are crucial steps in Apple’s continual pursuit to provide its consumers with the best technology-enhanced experience. Even as we await these potential updates, it’s clear that Apple’s future-proof approach to its wearable technology continues to push the envelope of what’s possible. The evolution of the AirPods, from their initial role as a wireless headphone solution to a comprehensive health device, underscores Apple’s commitment to technological innovation, customer satisfaction, and overall societal well-being. As we look to the future, the prospective integration of these health functionalities highlights the exciting possibilities that lie ahead in the field of wearable tech.