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After more than seven years of already published research saying the same thing, a new report now claims that Apple has begun work on expanding health surveillance similar to the Apple Watch into its AirPods line.
Apple’s ambitions for AirPods and ear sensors have been clear for years. The company has a number of patents on the use of headphones as health monitors more than seven years old, interviews with executives who suggest that this feature has come to devices other than the Apple Watch, all along with rumors circulating for years about sensors and other health surveillance will soon arrive on AirPods.
Further emphasizing that angle, Apple itself already has Live Listen, the newly launched Conversation Boost, and other technologies that allow AirPods to work as an ersatz hearing aid for users — even if Apple can’t sell them as such.
A new report, which she published Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, it cites “documents” and “people familiar with the plans” to try to narrowly define what Apple is doing. In particular, the report deals with further increasing the use of AirPod as a hearing aid, and says that there are prototypes for AirPods as cores for monitoring body temperature.
In addition, the report also says future AirPods will use motion sensors in the headphones to monitor user behavior. Alerts will be delivered if it is found that the user has bent over in a chair and other similar relative movements.
Apple’s many years of research for AirPods and health monitoring
AirPods were announced in September 2016 and barely reached online orders by the end of that year. As early as 2014, however, Apple filed three patents regarding biometric sensing headphones.
According to the patent from 2014, a fitness monitoring system is defined, which is built into a set of headphones or earbuds. By placing an audio device in or near the ear, the built-in activity sensor can pick up temperature, sweat and heart rate data, including metrics.
The integration of potential health features on AirPods has been talked about for a long time. Back in 2018, well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that AirPods could be integrated with Apple Watch and other devices for better health management. In the same year, Bluetooth specifications hinted at further health and wellness characteristics.
Apple has also filed numerous patent applications related to the introduction of health properties on a pair of AirPods. They include various sensors to monitor heart rate, movement or other health indicators.
Apple Vice President Kevin Lynch spoke earlier in 2021 about the integration of AirPods into Health and the concept of “sensor fusion”. Lynch hinted that Apple could include other types of sensors transmitted to the devices in its health ecosystem, including those in AirPods. The Apple Health system already uses “sensor fusion” to extract useful data from a variety of devices, such as the iPhone or Apple Watch.
“We’re already doing sensor fusion on some devices today, and I think there’s all sorts of potential here,” Lynch said.
It is not clear how it is Wall Street JournalRussia’s report on Wednesday differs from a large number of published papers on the concept. It also does not elaborate on the schedule.
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