Apple would explore new health-focused features for its AirPods, says The Wall Street Journal. Features may include using headphones to take users’ temperatures, monitor posture, and improve hearing. The WSJ Note that it’s not clear if this latter feature is significantly different from the AirPods’ existing ‘Conversation Boost’ feature.
According to WSJ, these functions “are not expected by next year and may never be rolled out to consumers or the schedule may change.” In other words, it looks like the iPhone maker is just exploring these new health features, rather than actively working on integrating them with products slated for release in a year or two.
Adding these sensors would make sense for Apple. The company increasingly markets its products on the basis of their health and fitness applications, although so far most of that attention has been focused on the Apple Watch. Reports last month suggested the company was considering adding various sensors to the laptop, including monitoring blood pressure, temperature, sleep quality, blood oxygen and blood sugar.
Incorporating health features into commercial products, however, is a delicate job, mainly due to the difficulty in meeting the high bar of medical regulatory standards. This inevitably leads to delays. It was reported in June, for example, that the upcoming Apple Watch would add temperature monitoring, but this feature never appeared in September’s Apple Watch 7.
Unfortunately the WSJApple’s report doesn’t include many details on Apple’s plans for the AirPods. Taking someone’s ear temperature is common, however, and there are many posture devices on the market that use digital sensors to alert wearers when they are slumped. Apple has already shown interest in using AirPods as a hearing aid, although the headphones aren’t actually FDA approved for this purpose.
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