Apple AirPods getting health features in the next few years

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 12
Apple's AirPods could become more useful in helping users stay healthy, with a possibility that the personal audio devices will include hearing health features in the coming years.

AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro


The AirPods and AirPods Pro are great accessories that are poised to gain health features in the future, given their tendency to be worn for long periods at a time. As part of that push, it is thought that the earphones could offer enhanced hearing health features within a few years.

In Sunday's "Power On" newsletter for Bloomberg, Mark Gurman believes Apple will make upgrades to the AirPods line to make it "become a health tool in the next year or two." That upgrade may include the ability to "get hearing data of some sort" using the accessories.

Based on Gurman's comments, the "health tool" elements would be a natural extension of what the Apple Watch offers to users, but its hearing-related potential could be far greater than what is currently offered.

Patents and patent applications have pointed to Apple coming up with biometric sensing capabilities in an AirPods package, using the ear and a photoplethysmogram (PPG) sensor to monitor the heart rate and characterize blood flow in the ear's skin. There's also suggestions of things like an electrocardiogram sensor, impedance cardiography, galvanic skin response, VO2 sensing, and thermometers included in the device in filings dating back to 2017.

Some patents dating as far back as 2014 indicate Apple considered monitoring the heart rate, temperature, and perspiration of a headphone user, so the company has looked at the topic for many years already. Meanwhile, in 2018, other filings pointed to Apple creating a more secure fit for the AirPods, so that sensors could make better contact with the skin.

On the hearing health side, Apple does already provide some capabilities, including Live Listen to enhance a user's hearing by picking up audio from an iPhone. Meanwhile, Conversation Boost in AirPods Pro is an assistive technology to make it easier to hear nearby conversations.

For the moment, neither of these features are approved by the FDA nor qualify as a replacement for a hearing aid, though some have previously offered that AirPods can act as a cheap first step to accepting the need to wear a hearing aid. Even so, Apple is believed to be working to make these and other similar benefits it comes up with more "official" in the future.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    SkepticalSkeptical Posts: 181member
    Can’t wait. I’ll just sit and wait for the glorious day. 
    Japheybyronl
  • Reply 2 of 12
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,892member
    Just hearing aid function please. 
    williamlondonbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 3 of 12
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,876member
    My AirPods Pro started crackling a little over two years after I purchased them. Genius Bar can 'fix' them by replacing each earbud for $90.  In effect AirPods Pro is a $200 disposable product.  Actually, based on my experience with other Apple earphone products, they are basically as disposable as IKEA flat pack furniture.  In fact, IKEA probably lasts longer.

    So, no thanks, I might as well just go buy the cheap no name brand which will be just as short lived.  Apple makes great products but their whole line of wired and wireless earphones, including Beats, are garbage products:  They're quite pricey but don't last that long.
    edited March 12 williamlondonbyronlbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 4 of 12
    AirPods done right has the potential to disrupt some types of hearing aids and also provide hearing augmentation for people who are not hearing impaired.

    Would be interesting to see if AirPods also could be paired with iPhone and provide audio translation of speech.

    AirPods + Siri is already awesome. Can't wait for more.

    I feel AirPods is just at the start of its journey. 
  • Reply 5 of 12
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,396member
    Doesn't AirPods have accelerators? I am sure it can also function as a pedometer. 
    byronl
  • Reply 6 of 12
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,892member
    tundraboy said:
    My AirPods Pro started crackling a little over two years after I purchased them. Genius Bar can 'fix' them by replacing each earbud for $90.  In effect AirPods Pro is a $200 disposable product.  Actually, based on my experience with other Apple earphone products, they are basically as disposable as IKEA flat pack furniture.  In fact, IKEA probably lasts longer.

    So, no thanks, I might as well just go buy the cheap no name brand which will be just as short lived.  Apple makes great products but their whole line of wired and wireless earphones, including Beats, are garbage products:  They're quite pricey but don't last that long.
    As they say, “your mileage may vary.” My iPods Pro 2 are quite amazing both in noise cancellation and spatial audio. I’ve owned every generation of this product since the original, and each generation has been an improvement over the previous. The Pro 2’s have made the biggest jump of all. I will agree with you that the batteries have degraded after a couple of years, but this is a common situation in batteries this tiny. I did have a distortion issue in one my original Pros, but my local store tested them and replaced both at no cost. I since passed them on to my brother and he loves them. 
    lolliverbyronl
  • Reply 7 of 12
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,892member
    BiC said:
    You want to get Healthy - RUN.  Seriously...
    When you’re 70 your knees won’t thank you. All that pounding takes a toll. All things in moderation, as they say. Walk uphill to get the heart going, don’t run. 
    byronl
  • Reply 8 of 12
    lolliverlolliver Posts: 491member
    BiC said:
    You want to get Healthy - RUN.  Seriously...
    When you’re 70 your knees won’t thank you. All that pounding takes a toll. All things in moderation, as they say. Walk uphill to get the heart going, don’t run. 
    That is misinformation that a lot of people seems to believe but it's simply not true. In fact the opposite is likely to occur. Running (when done with correct form) can actually strengthen the knees and stave of the development of arthritis. Walking uphill is also a great option though. 

    Why Running Won’t Ruin Your Knees - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
    Is running bad for your knees? | Live Science
    Is Running Bad for Your Knees? (healthline.com)
    edited March 13 byronl
  • Reply 9 of 12
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,892member
    lolliver said:
    BiC said:
    You want to get Healthy - RUN.  Seriously...
    When you’re 70 your knees won’t thank you. All that pounding takes a toll. All things in moderation, as they say. Walk uphill to get the heart going, don’t run. 
    That is misinformation that a lot of people seems to believe but it's simply not true. In fact the opposite is likely to occur. Running (when done with correct form) can actually strengthen the knees and stave of the development of arthritis. Walking uphill is also a great option though. 

    Why Running Won’t Ruin Your Knees - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
    Is running bad for your knees? | Live Science
    Is Running Bad for Your Knees? (healthline.com)
    Thanks for the links. But the Times article is careful to say that this “may” be the case—that it hasn’t been proven. I suspect that it’s highly individualized. I know our experience is anecdotal, but my wife who was a long time runner now has serious knee problems with replacement in her near future. I never ran, only walked and hiked and have fine knees at age 78. Still walking and hiking. 
    beowulfschmidtbyronl
  • Reply 10 of 12
    lolliverlolliver Posts: 491member
    lolliver said:
    BiC said:
    You want to get Healthy - RUN.  Seriously...
    When you’re 70 your knees won’t thank you. All that pounding takes a toll. All things in moderation, as they say. Walk uphill to get the heart going, don’t run. 
    That is misinformation that a lot of people seems to believe but it's simply not true. In fact the opposite is likely to occur. Running (when done with correct form) can actually strengthen the knees and stave of the development of arthritis. Walking uphill is also a great option though. 

    Why Running Won’t Ruin Your Knees - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
    Is running bad for your knees? | Live Science
    Is Running Bad for Your Knees? (healthline.com)
    Thanks for the links. But the Times article is careful to say that this “may” be the case—that it hasn’t been proven. I suspect that it’s highly individualized. I know our experience is anecdotal, but my wife who was a long time runner now has serious knee problems with replacement in her near future. I never ran, only walked and hiked and have fine knees at age 78. Still walking and hiking. 
    Yeah, definitely anecdotal. A quick google search will provide many more articles and research papers that advise running does not cause knee injuries and 'may' strengthen knees. I'll take science and research over anecdotal evidence any day. But if you enjoy/prefer walking to running then that's perfectly fine also. 
    byronl
  • Reply 11 of 12
    byronlbyronl Posts: 324member
    tundraboy said:
    My AirPods Pro started crackling a little over two years after I purchased them. Genius Bar can 'fix' them by replacing each earbud for $90.  In effect AirPods Pro is a $200 disposable product.  Actually, based on my experience with other Apple earphone products, they are basically as disposable as IKEA flat pack furniture.  In fact, IKEA probably lasts longer.

    So, no thanks, I might as well just go buy the cheap no name brand which will be just as short lived.  Apple makes great products but their whole line of wired and wireless earphones, including Beats, are garbage products:  They're quite pricey but don't last that long.
    I've replaced my pros twice and they still got problems such as transparency not working correctly. so annoying.
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