Future AirPods may read brain waves and other biosignals using in-ear electrodes

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Future AirPods may read brain waves and other biosignals using in-ear electrodes
A recent Apple patent granted in July reveals its musings about adding extra health tracking features to its venerable AirPods line of earbuds. The patent describes the eventual use of tiny electrodes scattered all over the earbuds that would read various biosignals.

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"The biosignals measured by the wearable electronic device may include, but are not limited to, an electroencephalography (EEG). In some embodiments, other biosignals may be measured, such as an electromyography (EMG), electrooculography (EOG), an electrocardiogram (ECG), a galvanic skin response (GSR), a blood volume pulse (BVP), etc.," says Apple.

It has patented the placement of said tiny electrodes all over the housing of both wired and wireless earphones, just in case. The description also warns that both active and reference electrodes may need to be configured individually for a user's ear form peculiarities.

The biosignal measurement devices could also be placed at the tip of the earpods, while Apple depicts how the user can tap on the side to start or finish the electroencephalography or other measurement session.

Needless to say, this is all in the realm of ideas for now, as Apple would need to put a lot of work to figure out how tiny electrodes on its earbuds could report an user's brain waves and other biosignals. Moreover, patents are usually filed as broad as possible to cover all grounds and avoid prospective litigation, while the final product usually lands with much more restricted functionality than what is filed in the patent describing it.

Apple managed to pull off actual FDA-approved ECG tracking by partnering with renowne Mayo Clinic and health researchers, as well as employing big data to crack the measurement analysis code with its Watch line, so nothing is outside the realms of possibility when it really puts its collective mind onto something. Reading biosignals like brain waves will have to pass legal muster as well, though, so it could be a while until we see the functionality in a future AirPods edition. 

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