Apple itself has acknowledged the health potential of AirPods, teasing that it’s an area in which it’s heavily investing. Now, Bloomberg reports that we can expect Apple to launch new health features for AirPods sometime in the next year or two.
In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says that Apple “intends to upgrade the AirPods to become a health tool in the next year or two.” In particular, he says that early features will include the “ability to get hearing data of some sort.”
Gurman points out that AirPods already offer a feature called Live Listen, which launched as part of iOS 12 in 2018. This feature essentially turns an iPhone into a directional microphone, transmitting the audio captured by that iPhone to AirPods in real time.
Live Listen, however, isn’t FDA approved. In the future, that sort of regulatory approval is something Gurman speculates could happen:
I believe Apple intends to upgrade the AirPods to become a health tool in the next year or two, with the ability to get hearing data of some sort. The AirPods have long had a feature called Live Listen that can boost audio from across a room, making the earbuds sort of like a hearing aid.
This, of course, isn’t FDA approved and isn’t meant to function as a hearing aid replacement. But given Apple’s goal to make health one of its next big initiatives, I wouldn’t be surprised if the AirPods do eventually take on those functions more officially. That’s something that would help tens of millions of people, if not more.
In an interview back in 2021, Apple executive Kevin Lynch acknowledged the health potential of AirPods. “We already do sensor fusion across some devices today, and I think there’s all kinds of potential here,” he said.
What sort of AirPods health features ultimately arrive remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s clearly an area of interest for Apple that aligns with Tim Cook’s overall goals.
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