New AirPods Can Detect Heart Problems Early, Better Cancel Noise With ‘Triangular’ Microphone SystemBy Donna Mills, UniversityHerald Reporter
Soon, AirPods will not just transmit audio. Apple's wireless earbuds will get so advanced in the near future that it's going to be capable of taking biometric readings.
Apple's three recent filings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revealed the tech giant's big plans for the AirPods. Titled "Earbuds with biometric sensing," future AirPods would probably be equipped with a photoplethysmogram (PPG) sensor, Apple Insider reported.
The technology, which is already seen in the Apple Watch, can monitor the wearer's heart rate. The PPG sensor will track heart rate by "shining a light onto abutting skin and measuring variations in reflectivity." That process can track the wearer's blood flow.
The PPG sensor will likely be located on one end of the earbud, specifically near the speaker opening. The latter engages with the tragus (a prominence on the external ear's inner side) that will be the perfect place for the would-be AirPods to measure blood.
Another patent from Apple involves the use of a complex group of sensors that will measure temperature from the user and ambient air, blood oxygen levels, stress levels and the heart's electrical activity.
This plan is proof of Apple's push towards equipping their products with health-tracking technology. Having heart rate sensors can alert wearers of early signs of health or heart issues and encourage them to seek treatment, preventing the condition from worsening.
The third patent, meanwhile, aims to better cancel noise. It will use a voice accelerometer to activate a dual-microphone system. The microphones will be arranged in a triangular configuration to lessen background noise and fully immerse users in their music or podcasts without noises from the outside filtering in.
AirPods' price ranges between $159 and $245. The wireless earbuds already come with sophisticated circuitry. AirPods can detect and automatically play sounds when they're in your ears, or pauses audio when they're taken out. Audio can be paused even only one earbud was removed.
The AirPods' design resembles the open, traditional earphones from the early 2000s instead of the snug fit of modern earphones in the ear canal, The Guardian noted. This is why the earbuds can't 100 percent isolate its wearer from the outside world's noise. Users need to increase the audio's volume to be able to hear it while commuting or in a busy office. Apple's plan to equip the next AirPods with better noise isolation will surely fix these issues.
The surprising upside of the AirPods is its ability to stay in the wearer's ears even during exercise routines. The earbuds have five hours of battery life and its charging case refills its energy in just minutes.