Apple has made key health and wellness components of the iPhone and Apple Watch in recent years. In iOS 15, Apple even added the ability to share medical information with trusted family members and caregivers. Now, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple is considering turning its AirPods wireless earbuds into health devices of its own in the next few years.
Apple wants AirPods to improve your health
The Wall Street Journal Recently obtained documents showing that Apple is studying ways to add new health features to AirPods. Future models may be able to “improve hearing, read body temperature and monitor posture,” according to the leaked documents.
the WSJ notes that it is unclear if Apple plans to develop specific headphone functions for the AirPods. Instead, Apple could decide to market existing features as potential hearing aid alternatives. Last week, the company released a new feature called Conversation Boost for its AirPods Pro. As the name suggests, Conversation Boost increases the volume of the person speaking directly in front of you. Apple could improve this feature or simply market it as a health feature.
The documents also reveal that Apple is already building prototypes for AirPods that can take a user’s temperature from inside their ear. The company is also expected to add a temperature sensor to the Apple Watch Series 8. This would give Apple device owners two ways to take their temperature.
Finally, Apple would use the motion sensors in the headphones to detect a user’s posture. If your AirPods detect that you are hunched over, they will alert you to improve your posture. If you use AirPods to take calls and listen to music all day at work, this could be an incredibly useful addition.
Here’s why this matters
The Wall Street Journal notes that while 28 million Americans suffer from mild hearing loss, only 5% wear a hearing aid. Meanwhile, only 37% of the 12 million people with moderate hearing loss use hearing aids. An audiologist explains why Apple entering the field would be a big deal:
Johns Hopkins audiologist Dr. Nicholas Reed said the prospect of Apple offering future AirPods as over-the-counter headphones could be a game changer. He said Apple’s ubiquitous hearing aids can break the old-age stigma associated with traditional hearing aids, which often prevents people from using them, and would cost far less than traditional hearing aids.
For now, Apple is unable to market AirPods as headphones due to federal regulations. Currently, the licensed hearing specialists who can adjust hearing aids for each individual user are the only ones who can sell them. Plus, Apple could always scrap these features before they see the light of day. In the meantime, we expect Apple to introduce the third-generation AirPods this fall.