While Apple is constantly looking for innovative new ways to bridge the gap between good old fashioned consumer electronics and life-saving medical devices, it's no big secret that most of the tech giant's potentially game-changing ideas and concepts take years and years to commercially materialize, with many of them dying a slow and silent death in development hell.
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees the latest "confidential" plans revealed by the Wall Street Journal
will end up having a different fate from the vast majority of similar projects explored by Apple over the years, but if they do, the AirPods
could definitely extend their industry supremacy
Way more than a wireless music listening product
Much like the Apple Watch Series 4
radically changed (for good) how we view smartwatches back in 2018 by putting ECG monitoring technology directly on your wrist, the AirPods Pro 2... or Pro 3 may well shift our perception of today's true wireless earbuds
with various other built-in health features.
The key word there is "other", mind you, as Apple
's next-gen true wireless flagship is expected to support things like body temperature and posture tracking instead of somehow integrating ECG, fall detection, heart rate, sleep, or activity tracking functionality of any sort.
If the latter feature happens to sound, well, unexciting or outright annoying, you probably won't be able to say the same about the third and arguably greatest new health and wellness tool potentially coming to future AirPods generations.
This will essentially allow some of the best true wireless earbuds
available right now to double as hearing aids, which is pretty much unheard-of (no pun intended). It remains to be seen, of course, just how big of a difference Apple will be able to make in the lives of millions and millions of Americans alone suffering from mild or moderate hearing loss, many of whom are simply too ashamed to wear a traditional hearing aid device.
That feeling of shame would naturally disappear if a ubiquitous pair of earbuds could improve their hearing, especially if an added feature of that sort wouldn't make AirPods prices explode. Traditional hearing aids, mind you, can be quite expensive, as is the case of the Bose SoundControl
, which is the first such FDA-cleared product to come from a major consumer electronics brand.
Just don't get too excited at the moment
If all (or at least some) of the above sounds too good to be true, you might want to remember that none of it is technically true yet, and it may never come true.
Even if it does, we can't be sure the groundbreaking health features will actually make it to your ears in 2022... or 2023... or even 2024. While Apple will probably keep trying to take the already hugely popular AirPods to the next level in terms of their real-world utility, the FDA needs to authorize these breakthroughs before reaching consumers, which can be an extremely lengthy and intricate process.
You may not remember the Gear IconX, and that's perfectly understandable.
The US Food and Drug Administration has to revise its notoriously strict rules first to allow "over-the-counter hearing aids" to, well, exist, which does seem to be a simple matter of time and could lead to companies like Samsung following Apple's example as well.
Samsung, remember, was one of the first companies to unveil wireless earbuds with fitness and health tracking functionality
all the way back in 2016, but the first and second-gen Gear IconX
did not prove particularly reliable and accurate in monitoring a user's heart rate, distance, speed, and calories burned, which is another key reason why Apple might want to take its time before releasing its rookie health-centric AirPods effort. In the meantime, we have the more conventional AirPods 3
to look forward to.