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Apple AirPods Could Soon Track Brain Activity

The headphones could monitor a range of user biomarkers, including temperature, hearing and sweat levels

Scarlett Evans

July 26, 2023

2 Min Read
Apple's AirPods could soon gain health care capabilities
Getty

Apple has filed a patent for a new AirPod design, featuring bio-monitoring electrodes which measure electrical activity in the brain.

The novel design would move AirPods from simple headphones to the realm of wearable health care devices, with the potential to monitor and understand users’ physiology, such as hearing and brain activity, over time.

According to the patent, Apple wants to provide less invasive and cumbersome options for health-monitoring electrodes. 

Typically, these devices are expensive and need to be customized to meet a user’s specific requirements. By contrast, the new AirPod design proposes an array of electrodes to offer biosignal measuring that can be configured depending on a user’s needs, offering a more cost-effective alternative.

The application notes that the design takes different factors into account, such as user parameters, how the device is worn and ambient conditions influencing electrode selection.

While the full range of use cases is not yet clear, the earbuds could also be used to measure a wearer’s pulse, temperature and sweat activity. Providing insight into a user’s emotional and physical state, the headphones would be similar to a smartwatch that keeps tabs on a user’s physiology and offers suggestions on how to improve health.

Earlier this month it was reported that Apple was investigating the use of AirPods for improving hearing health. One way was by playing different sounds to screen for hearing issues. The second was by integrating some of the same capabilities as hearing aids into its design.

While it is unclear when these features may be expected to come into commercialization, the next generation of AirPods is set for a far wider range of capabilities than previously seen.

About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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