Study: Apple AirPods Pro Can Double As Hearing Aids

A study has found that Apple’s AirPods Pro could serve as hearing aids for people with hearing loss.

Image credit: Apple

Due to cost or social stigma, millions of people who could benefit from hearing aids frequently choose not to use them. However, Taiwanese researchers used 21 volunteers with mild to moderate hearing loss to compare Apple AirPods to conventional hearing aids. The "Live Listen" app, which functions as a microphone, was used to connect the AirPods to Apple cellphones.

They found that the AirPods Pro model, which has a noise cancellation feature, performed as well as premium hearing aids in certain environments. They hope this knowledge will encourage more companies to include features in smartphone technology that help people with hearing loss.

Read more: Apple Study: Women Experience Abnormal Periods

For the study, AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro were connected to the iPhone XS Max smartphones with iOS version 13.0 for this study. The hearing performance of hearing aids and AirPods were then analyzed to understand the similarity and differences between them in the study, which was supported by grants from the National Science and Technology Council, Veterans General Hospitals, and the University System of Taiwan Joint Research Program, states BusinessInsider.

The electroacoustic characteristics were compared, including frequency response bandwidth, frequency response smoothness, maximum output sound pressure level at 90 dB sound, and others. The most similar qualities to a hearing aid were found in AirPods Pro, while AirPods 2 only partially matched such features.

According to the study's findings, those who have mild-to-moderate hearing loss might consider using AirPods Pro. The basic hearing aid and AirPod Pro performed very identically; however, the AirPod 2 was not a good match for this.

However, the study points out that there are limitations to using the AirPods Pro as a hearing aid, including battery life and stronger microphones to pick up environmental sounds. But as Yen-Fu Cheng at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, who co-wrote the study, says, the AirPods Pro are “a good way for people to experience what the world would be like if they could get some help, an upgrade for their hearing.”

Sam Draper
December 23, 2022

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