Apple wants to make its AirPods a medical device

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Apple is thinking of a way to adapt its AirPods to people with hearing disabilities in the medium term. The idea? Turn your headphones into a quasi-medical device.

AirPods Pro 2
The AirPods Pro 2, by way of illustration // Source: Tristan Jacquel for Frandroid

Very focused on health with its latest Apple Watch, but also with certain iPhone functions (Health, Fitness, or even Screen Time applications, among others), Apple would seek to go further in this field… but this time with its AirPods . According to Mark Gurman’s PowerOn newsletter, the company would like to make its wireless headphones a quasi-medical device for the hearing impaired.

As Mashable reports, the often well-informed Bloomberg reporter indicates that Apple would thus seek to transform its AirPods into a health tool “in a year or two“. By the end of this relatively short period, Apple headphones would allow “to obtain certain auditory data» that Apple may use for certain users.

A prediction that makes sense…

Mark Gurman’s predictions are far from inconsistent. Apple has not only gradually built a real software ecosystem dedicated to health and wellness, but the brand also has effective technologies in this direction. Technologies that the firm already uses in some of its devices.

The Apple Watch is, for example, capable of measuring the user’s heart rate, estimating the oxygen saturation of their blood, and even knowing if their heart rate is regular enough. The AirPods Pro, for their part, are already capable of effectively reducing outside noise, but also of capturing the sounds of the environment to reproduce them very clearly in the ear thanks to the transparency mode.

In the same vein, the Conversation Boost mode, which already exists in the accessibility options of AirPods Pro, currently makes it possible to better highlight the voice of a speaker in a noisy environment, such as a hearing aid. To imagine that these technologies could be improved and reused for hearing impaired people is not at all wishful thinking.

It should also be noted that Mark Gurman’s forecasts echo those made in 2021 by Ming-Chi Kuo. Also knowledgeable when it comes to Apple, the analyst mentioned the addition of a dedicated health management feature to AirPods. Some corridor noises mentioned in particular the possibility of analyzing the user’s posture, in particular during sports training sessions with Apple Fitness+. Furthermore, patent applications filed by Apple in 2014 hinted at intriguing devices dedicated to the AirPods (released two years later). The latter sought in particular to measure the user’s body temperature, heart rate or even the level of perspiration directly from his ear.

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