“It’s an approach that could prove appealing to health and fitness enthusiasts, and would allow Apple to compete with other new earbud solutions that use biometrics to deliver FitBit-type functionality into that category of wearables.”
A newly granted patent suggests that Apple is considering the integration of biometric capabilities into an upcoming version of its AirPod wireless earbuds.
For a lot of end users, the central innovation detailed in the patent will be the use of foam cushioning to fit either earbud into either ear, with sensors detecting which ear a given earbud is placed in and reconfiguring the sound accordingly. But the patent also notes that at least one biometric sensor could be “pressed up against a portion of the tragus for making biometric measurements,” such as heart rate or body temperature.
It’s an approach that could prove appealing to health and fitness enthusiasts, and would allow Apple to compete with other new earbud solutions that use biometrics to deliver FitBit-type functionality into that category of wearables.
It also jibes with Apple’s longstanding and strong interest in biometrics; not only has the company pioneered fingerprint authentication and facial recognition in its smartphones, but it has also brought fitness-tracking biometric capabilities to its Apple Watch smartwatch.
Of course, Apple patents can never be relied upon to tell you what kind of hardware Apple actually has in development, and while this patent was published this week, it was filed over a year ago. Nevertheless, these kinds of patents offer insight into what kinds of technologies Apple’s engineers are exploring, at the very least; and with renowned analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicting new AirPods for next year and a bigger redesign in 2020, it’s quite possible that this patent offers a glimpse at the devices’ future.