WSJ: Apple is ‘studying’ hearing aids

Duh.

From Rolfe Winkler’s  “Apple Studying Potential of AirPods as Health Device” posted Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal:

Apple is studying ways to make AirPods into a health device, including for enhancing hearing, reading body temperature and monitoring posture, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the plans.

The plans further demonstrate Apple’s ambition to add health and wellness features to devices beyond the Apple Watch, where most of the company’s health functions exist today. Apple is also working on technology that aims to use iPhones to help diagnose depression and cognitive decline, the Journal reported last month.

It isn’t clear if Apple is developing specific new hearing-aid features for AirPods or wants to market the earbuds’ existing hearing-improvement features as hearing aids. AirPods Pro, Apple’s higher-end earbuds, already offer features to improve hearing, including “conversation boost,” launched last week, that increases the volume and clarity of people in front of the wearer.

The proposed AirPods features aren’t expected by next year and might never be rolled out to consumers or the timing could change, cautioned people familiar with the company’s plans.

My take: Ah, the old people-familiar-with-plans-that-might-never-be rolled-out story formula. I’d like to see those Apple documents the Journal reviewed. And I’d like to buy those Apple hearing aids.

See also: Biden opens the door to Apple hearing aids.

8 Comments

  1. Fred Stein said:
    I’d stand in the line for hours in pouring rain. Omg yes

    3
    October 13, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      I’d stand in the line for hours in pouring rain. Omg yes

      I did that to get the first iPhone on launch day. Well it was raining gently and my wait was only 4 hours, but it was cold and felt like all day.

      2
      October 13, 2021
  2. Ralph McDarmont said:
    I’ll buy a dozen. I am extremely deaf and I know Apple has the technological knowledge to tackle this market perfectly. I’ve been waiting.

    4
    October 13, 2021
  3. Rick Povich said:
    I wear hearing aids that are compatible by pairing with my iPhone. I can control the various frequency settings, volume, etc. I can answer my phone and listen to music from my phone. However, despite that utiity, listening to music is awful – it works but it’s crappy. They are also unable to pair with my Watch (software issue, the company says). I dont think I would wear my EarPods all day as I would my hearing aids. I still can’t get a good fit in my ear with one of the EarPods and I dont need the bulk or instability of the EarPods fit compared to the much-better-fitting hearing aids. Having said that, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to believe Apple could actually built a good quality hearing aid that would be fully compatible with the iPhone and Watch. If the company can come up with something I’d be very interested. FWIW, good hearing aids can cost up to $10,000 and not many insurance companies – or Medicare – cover the cost

    2
    October 13, 2021
    • Rick Povich said:
      I need to clarify that I use the EarPods pro rather than the original EarPods. There’s a bit more functionality in the Pro version as well as a difference in shape

      1
      October 13, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      Hearing aids are specifically tailored and focused on speech audibility. IME, they are not wide range devices, focusing specifically on the 800-4000 hz frequency spectrum where most male and female voice energy and intelligibility is important. Some custom aids can span up to 10Khz but again, not optimized for music.

      2
      October 13, 2021
  4. Don’t tell the FDA but I’ve been using my AirPods & AirPods Pro as hearing aids ever since I lost the $6,000 pair that had no method for locating the little black devices. I could use an Equalizer tool to tweak output in my weak hearing ranges. Biden’s exec order for the FDA to finish the new hearing aid guidelines is just about due.

    0
    October 14, 2021
  5. Alan Levy said:
    Couple years ago, about a year after I got a pair of AirPods Pro, I started researching hearing aid companies to find some good candidates to short. Didn’t do it at the time which was good as Apple moves so slowly that I would have been seriously underwater. If apple ever does flip the switch it will devastate them in the same way the Apple Watch trashed Swiss watchmakers and the discount brands like Timex.

    0
    October 14, 2021

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