AirPods hearing aids capabilities just the start, says report

There have long been reports that Apple is working on ways to effectively create AirPods hearing aids – adding capabilities to the in-ear headphones that would enable them to replace hearing aids for at least some people. Or, at least, blur the lines between earphones and hearing aids.

A new report today says that the Cupertino company is still actively working on this, and has other health-related ambitions for the devices …

The WSJ reports.

Apple is studying ways to make AirPods into a health device, including for enhancing hearing, reading body temperature and monitoring posture, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the plans […]

It isn’t clear if Apple is developing specific new hearing-aid features for AirPods or wants to market the earbuds’ existing hearing-improvement features as hearing aids.

It seems the AirPods hearing aid plans are still not anywhere close to launch, however.

The proposed AirPods features aren’t expected by next year and might never be rolled out to consumers or the timing could change, cautioned people familiar with the company’s plans.

Apple has already recently taken a step in this direction, with the launch of the Conversation Boost feature in iOS 15.

Conversation Boost focuses your AirPods Pro on the person talking in front of you, making it easier to hear in a face-to-face conversation.

The WSJ report lacks any detail, but it would certainly be on-brand for Apple. The company has a strong commitment to accessibility, and the Apple Watch is growing increasingly sophisticated as a health-focused device, so it would make sense for the company’s health ambitions to extend into other products.

The paper recently reported that Apple hopes iPhones can help diagnose mental health issues. This would be a controversial move, though the company does reportedly plan for all processing to be done on-device. However, as we know from the CSAM furore, this may not allay fears.

Photo: Jonas Schindler/Unsplash

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