Forget the AirPods: What's Next from Apple Is Better

Apple is the proud owner of some new patents that could dramatically change the look, feel, and functionality of its wireless AirPods.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has awarded Apple three patents that add fitness and biometric features to earbuds quite like the recently released AirPods. The patents, called "Earbuds with Biometric Sensing," are capable of collecting a person's biometric information by pressing up against a part of the ear called the tragus.

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According to the patents, which were earlier discovered by Patently Apple, once the earbuds have been inserted into the ears, they'll shine a light on the tragus and measure the reflective properties off the feature. That information can be used to ensure the person wearing the earbuds is the authorized owner.

Credit: USPTOCredit: USPTOAdditionally, the earbud patents suggest ways for Apple's technology to deliver noise-canceling features. According to the patents, Apple would allow audio that was registered within a 10- to 20-degree window in and would ban all other audio from reaching your ears. The noise-canceling feature could also be used to screen all audio, including voices.

When Tom's Guide reviewed the AirPods, we liked their design, battery life and the ability to seamless connect to iOS devices. But there's always room for improvement, and adding features like biometrics and noise-canceling could go a long way in helping the AirPods compete against other wireless options.

It's not clear at this point how biometrics might fit into Apple's plans. While it appears to be a way to authenticate you to use the earbuds, could it also be used down the road as a Touch ID-like function? The possibilities are endless.

But like anything Apple-related, take all of these patents with the proverbial grain of salt. Like other tech companies, Apple constantly files for patents on technologies that might never come to its devices. These biometric earbuds could fall into that category.

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