Apple next-gen AirPods leaks suggests this new feature is coming soon
Future AirPods may come with ambient light sensors built-in that could be used to track blood oxygen levels
Apple had introduced its AirPods Pro last fall and rumour has it that the new AirPods are coming in this year, along with Apple's over-ear headphones, but we don't have a date speculated as yet. Adding one more leak to the whole bunch of others that we've seen, a DigiTimes report suggests that the next-gen AirPods are going to come with one major upgrade.
MacRumours based its report on two articles from DigiTimes to reveal that Apple is probably considering integrating light sensors in the future AirPods models. According to reports, these light sensors will be developed in Taiwan.
“Apple is expected to incorporate ambient light sensors (ALS) in next-generation AirPods devices in the coming 1-2 years, and Taiwan's ASE Technology may handle the backend process for the new component, as it has moved to purchase more packaging machines, according to industry sources,” MacRumours quoted the DigiTimes report.
While the one report with the mention of the ALS does not explain what it might be used for, a second report suggests that these sensors will be “involved in measuring biometrics” and will be a part of the AirPods' new health feature.
“ASE Technology is poised to apply its SESUB (semiconductor embedded in substrate)-based SiP packaging technology to next-generation TWS (true wireless stereo) earphones to be rolled out by Apple, after being contracted to handle high-end mmWave AiP (antenna in package) process for 5G iPhones and tablets,” according to industry sources.
“ASE has combined SiP with embedded AI design for TWS gears, allowing the devices to monitor heart rates, step counts and health conditions and even to conduct intelligent translation and detect head motions,” sources in the DigiTimes report added.
A report from DigiTimes published in January 2019 had claimed that Apple would bring in some “health monitoring features” to its new AirPods but the ones released in March 2019 saw no such feature. Going by this, it is possible that Apple might be saving this new feature for what it has planned this year.
MacRumours suggests that these ALS could be related to a feature that monitors heart rate and/or bloody oxygen saturation from the ear and might use the tech the way clip-on finger pulse oximeters work by shining red and infrared light on blood vessels to measure blood oxygen levels through how much light passes through the finger. Hospitals use ear-based clip-on pulse oximeters for the same purpose as well.
While it is not sure how exactly Apple plans to use this tech in the AirPods, since they sit in the ear, without redesigning the wearables, it is possible that this new feature could be meant for the fitness-oriented earphones the company has planned. The Powerbeats Pro sport an over-ear design much like the Freewavz's true wireless earphones that feature an integrated pulse oximeter, MacRumours pointed out.
MacRumours mentions an Apple patent that describes an “earbud-based fitness monitoring system which integrates an advanced biometric sensor that can detect physiological metrics including temperature, heart rate, perspiration levels and more, through skin contact and via built-in motion sensors”.
Apple is expected to bring in blood oxygen monitoring to Apple Watches in the future, so a possibility of this tech being incorporated in AirPods is not impossible.
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