Apple's AirPods may currently dominate the wireless music
industry, but Apple has much bigger plans for its tiny earbuds.
According to a new report in The
Wall Street Journal, Apple is exploring a variety of health
features for future versions of AirPods that will turn them from
headphones into health devices.
The Journal reports that Apple is studying three ways to bring
health features to AirPods. The first is enhancing hearing, which
would likely be an expansion of the current Conversation Boost and Live Listen features. Apple released the new
AirPods Pro feature, which pinpoints and amplifies sound coming
from people talking in front of you, in early October. The Journal
says new FDA regulations that permit the sale of a new class of
cheaper hearing aids direct to consumers to treat mild to moderate
hearing loss could allow Apple to market AirPods as hearing
Far more ambitious would be a new feature to take wearers' core
body temperature from inside their ear. According to documents
reviewed by the Journal, Apple is looking to add a thermometer to
the AirPods similar to the rumored skin-temperature sensor on the
Apple Watch. Traditional tympanic thermometers use infrared sensors
to measure temperature, but it's not clear how Apple would
incorporate such a sensor into the AirPods.
Finally, Apple is also looking to monitor posture and
ergonomics. The Journal reports that the feature would lean on the
motion sensors in the earbuds and alert wearers of slouching and to
improve their posture.
New AirPods and AirPods Pro models with new designs have been rumored for many months, but the Journal says
these features aren't expected by next year. In the meantime, Apple
is holding a second fall event next week that will likely bring new
Macs. It's not clear if AirPods will be released as well, but
rumors have suggested they could launch at any time. New AirPods
Pro with a stemless design are due to arrive in 2022.