AirPods the new generation can use tiny biometric sensors built right into the earbuds to monitor the wearer's heart rate and body temperature. At least, this is evidenced by the patent issued Apple by the US department.
The idea sounds great. Such headphones will not only replace a whole fitness tracker, but also eliminate the need to buy a watch to monitor your health.
Apple also offers the option of attaching the earphones more securely to your ears so that the sensors are always in the right place. This is how Apple Insider explains it:
Just like Apple Watch has sensors that need to be in contact with the wrist for biometric measurements, similar sensors can be used in headphones. But the question arises: how to place the device in your ear in order to simultaneously provide sound transmission and press the earphone tight enough to the skin for the heart rate sensor to work correctly.
The patent Apple notes that at least one of the biometric sensors must be pressed against the tragus – the area of skin that is directly in front of the ear canal – to take measurements. One possible solution is to place the sensor on the back of the earmold, which is firmly in contact with the ear canal.
Apple Insider also notes a second possible way to accomplish the same problem:
An alternative solution is to add, as it is called in the patent, a 'malleable element' – essentially a liner that comes into contact with the fold of the ear called the anti-helix, which will allow you to get the necessary data from the outside of the ear canal, without having to contact the canal from the inside.
Such an element could be something like a foam insert that can be compressed so that the earphone is comfortable to wear, but at the same time fits snugly enough to monitor pressure.
This method will also allow you to adapt to different shapes and sizes of ears, and this part can be made replaceable – like earbuds in vacuum headphones.
In addition, Apple plans to make this earbud symmetrical so that the earbud can be used in both the left and right ear (with a dedicated sensor detecting the position of the earbud to understand which ear is being scanned).
Monitoring your health with headphones sounds like a great idea – especially since Amazon and Google have confirmed they have plans to create competitors AirPods. Perhaps thanks to this race, in a couple of years, our headphones will be able to do more than we could ever imagine. In addition to biometric sensors, the new AirPods may receive a number of other new features – including support for 'Hello Siri', sweat protection, sound insulation, extended range and a new design.
According to analyst Min-Chi Kuo, the startling changes to AirPods are expected only in 2020, while in 2019 we will receive only a small update, the main feature of which will be the introduction of wireless charging. Kuo also says sales AirPods will skyrocket with the release of the second generation.