Apple is working on various changes and updates for its AirPods earbuds as part of its effort to expand its wearables business. AirPods have become a significant revenue generator for Apple, surpassing the sales growth of the iPad and Mac. The company now plans to add hearing health features, such as a hearing test to screen for issues and exploring positioning AirPods as a hearing aid to tap into the $10 billion hearing aid market.
Apple has already added hearing-aid-like features, such as Conversation Boost and Live Listen, but they don’t yet have regulatory approval. Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration eased hearing aid purchase rules, allowing for over-the-counter sales without an exam or prescription. That’s created more of an opening, and Apple has hired engineers from traditional hearing aid makers as part of this effort.
There’s also engineering work being done on adding sensors to the AirPods so they can determine body temperature via a wearer’s ear canal. That type of data is considered more accurate than wrist temperature, which is collected on the Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra models while users sleep.
Article written by Mark Gurnman