Apple is reportedly researching new ways to turn its AirPods into a health tracking device.
According to documents seen by The Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab), AirPod prototypes that have the ability to measure a wearer’s core body temperature from the inner ear are being developed to work in tandem with a temperature sensor, potentially in the Apple Watch Series 8.
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AirPods: Tracking temperature and posture
Unlike skin temperature sensors, the body’s core temperature is usually only measured outside of medical settings using an ear thermometer, or infrared technology. The body’s core temperature refers to the temperature of the body’s internal organs. Your core temperature rising or falling rapidly is usually a sign of a serious medical condition.
The new health-tracking features being developed for the AirPods are also said to offer wearers hints and tips on their posture and alert them when they begin to slouch. For a long time now, poor posture has been associated with poor health, as bad body alignment can put extra stress on muscles and joints.
AirPods as hearing aids
Apple is also said to be working on new hearing functions, although it’s not clear whether these are an expansion on the ‘conversation boost’ feature launched on AirPods Pro last week, or whether Apple is developing more of a hearing aid function for their AirPods.
Conversation boost increases the volume and clarity of people in front of the wearer, so it could be that Apple is expanding on this, however, the report mentioned FDA regulations for a new class of hearing aids aimed at mild to moderate hearing loss. It seems unlikely the AirPods would be used as a full-time hearing aid, due to the lack of all-day battery life.
AirPods: The new health wearable?
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard rumors about the AirPods providing more health monitoring functions. Apple’s vice president of technology, Kevin Lynch, hinted at sensor function with AirPods in an interview with Tech Crunch (opens in new tab) earlier this year. When asked directly about AirPod health monitoring, Lynch said, “We already do sensor fusion across some devices today, and I think there’s all kinds of potential here”.
While the new health features on the Apple AirPods are unlikely to reach consumers for a couple of years, these rumors demonstrate Apple’s focus on health and wellness features across multiple devices. It seems the Apple Watch will no longer be the primary device for the company’s health functions. Last month, for example, Apple was said to be working on technology that will help the iPhone to diagnose depression and cognitive decline.
The tech giant is also said to be working on new health features for its Apple Watch that will help users track their blood pressure and even fertility. The Wall Street Journal reported that people familiar with internal company documents had leaked the brand is working on a tool that will alert users when their blood pressure is increasing. The fertility features are thought to be available as early as next year.
Of course, if this year’s Apple event taught us anything, it’s that sometimes rumors are just rumors, but it’s exciting to see Apple developing new features to help give users further insights into their health.