Apple is exploring ways to turn AirPods into a healthy device, including improving hearing, reading body temperature and monitoring posture, according to documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
The plans also illustrate the company’s ambition to add health features to devices other than the Apple Watch, where most of the company’s health functions are located today.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Apple is also working on technology to use iPhones to help diagnose depression and cognitive decline.
Features may include the use of headphones to measure the wearer’s temperature, monitor posture, and improve hearing. The Wall Street Journal notes that it’s not clear whether this latter feature differs significantly from the talk-boost feature found in AirPods.
These jobs are not expected until next year, according to the Wall Street Journal, and may never be released to consumers, or the schedule may change.
In other words, it looks like the iPhone maker is only exploring these new health features, rather than actively incorporating them into products that could be released in a year or two.
The addition of such sensors makes sense for the company. Apple increasingly markets its products based on the strength of its health and fitness applications. This is despite the fact that so far most of this attention has focused on the Apple Watch.
Reports last month said the company was considering adding various sensors to the laptop, including blood pressure, temperature, sleep quality, blood oxygen and blood sugar monitoring.
Incorporating health features into commercial products is hard work. This is mainly due to the difficulty of meeting high medical regulatory standards. This inevitably leads to delays.
Take your temperature
It was reported in June, for example, that the upcoming Apple Watch was adding temperature monitoring. But this feature never appeared on the Apple Watch 7 in September.
The Wall Street Journal report doesn’t include many details about the company’s plans for the AirPods. The problem with taking someone’s ear temperature is common. This despite the fact that there are many devices on the market that use digital sensors to alert the wearer when they are slack.
And Apple has shown interest in using AirPods as a kind of hearing aid. This despite the fact that the headphones are not approved for this purpose by the Food and Drug Administration.