Apple is reportedly researching new health-focused features for its AirPods. Features include using the earbuds to measure the wearer’s temperature, monitor their posture, and improve their hearing.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, it is not clear whether the latter function differs significantly from the existing “Conversation Boost” function of the AirPods.
According to reports, these features “are not expected until next year and may never be rolled out to consumers or the timing may change”.
In other words, it sounds like the iPhone maker is just researching these new health features, rather than actively working to incorporate them into products that will appear in the next year or two.
Adding these sensors would make sense for Apple. The company has increasingly marketed its products for their health and fitness applications, although most of the attention so far has focused on the Apple Watch.
Reports from last month indicated that the company wanted to add various sensors to the wearable, including monitoring blood pressure, temperature, sleep quality, blood oxygen, and blood sugar.
However, integrating health traits into commercial products is tricky work, largely because of the difficulty of meeting the high bar of medical regulatory standards. This inevitably leads to delays.
For example, in June it was reported that the next Apple Watch would add temperature monitoring, but that feature never showed up in the Apple Watch 7 in September.
However, it is common to take the temperature on someone’s ear, and there are many posture devices on the market that use digital sensors to warn the wearer if they are crooked.
Apple has already shown that it is interested in using AirPods as a type of hearing assistant, even though the earbuds are not approved by the FDA for this purpose.