Study finds AirPods Pro can be a more affordable alternative to expensive hearing aids

Study finds AirPods Pro can be a more affordable alternative to expensive hearing aids
If you or someone you know is hard of hearing, the most obvious solution is to purchase a hearing aid. The most expensive hearing aids cost thousands of dollars but a new report from the journal iScience (via NDTV) says that there are cheaper devices that work just as well as the priciest hearing aids. We are talking about the AirPods Pro and the AirPods 2 which the journal says "may serve as a hearing assistive device for mild-to-moderate hearing loss."

Test reveals that the AirPods Pro can be a cheaper replacement for premium hearing aids

Researchers at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan used 21 patients with mild to moderate hearing loss as subjects for a test of various hearing aids that included the two aforementioned AirPods models. The two AirPods were paired with an iPhone allowing them to use the handset's microphone for the Live Listen feature. With this feature, the microphone on the iPhone is used to amplify the sound in a room and send it to a pair of AirPods.

Those involved in the survey were told to don the AirPods while researchers read short sentences to them. The subjects had to repeat the sentences back to the researchers. What the test showed was that in quiet and noisy environments, the AirPods 2 did not perform as well as hearing aids but were better than wearing nothing at all. As for the AirPods Pro, they were shown to be comparable to premium hearing aids with one exception.

The AirPods Pro helped those participating in the study hear better when the sounds were coming from either side of the subjects. Sounds that were generated directly in front of the test subjects were not heard by the recipient regardless of which AirPods model they wore. The AirPods Pro was helped by its Active Noise Cancellation feature which prevents distracting, ambient noises from being heard.

Yen-Fu Cheng, the study's corresponding author, told Science Alert, "These wireless earbuds are of course not perfect, but they would be a good starting point for many patients who don't have access to professional hearing aids. They will see an increase in quality of life even with these earbuds."

Mr. Cheng also pointed out that because of the "social stigma" of wearing hearing aids, some people with a hearing problem might feel more comfortable wearing AirPods instead. The researchers came to the conclusion that the AirPods Pro could be a cheaper hearing aid alternative for some patients. The researchers say, "Globally, the wireless earphone market is growing rapidly. Some companies are interested in exploring the possibility of designing earbuds with sound amplification features. Our study proves that the idea is plausible."

75% of Americans with hearing loss won't wear a hearing aid because it makes them look too old

Science Alert stated that as many as 75% of the U.S. population that suffer from hearing loss won't wear a hearing aid because they think it makes them look too old. Wearing a pair of AirPods Pro earbuds might actually give others a different opinion of the user. And consider this: by 2060 the number of cases in the United States involving hearing loss is expected to double.

With the AirPods Pro 2 priced at $249, it is a much cheaper option for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss than a $6,000 pair of hearing aids that require the user to visit hearing professionals to get a custom fit and fine-tune the hearing aid. These are not necessary if the AirPods Pro is being used instead. Keep in mind that none of the AirPods models have been evaluated by the FDA as a medical device.

While the bottom line is that the AirPods Pro 2 could make a worthy replacement for premium hearing aids for those wild mid-to-moderate hearing loss, it still requires the wearable device be paired with an Apple iPhone or iPad running iOS or iPadOS 14.3 or later for the Live Listen feature to work.

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