Can AirPods Actually Become the Hearing Aids of the Future?

According to new research, personal sound amplification products like the AirPods may help some people hear better, albeit in certain scenarios. This has a lot of potential because while millions of Americans could use hearing aids, few of them actually use them due to the price and social stigma related to those products.

AirPods Can Be a Sound-Boosting Microphone

Can AirPods Actually Become the Hearing Aids of the Future

A group of scientists believes Apple AirPods and other earbuds can alleviate some of the issues related to hearing aids. AirPods, in particular, are ubiquitous and can act as a sound-boosting microphone, thanks to the Live Listen feature that was released by Apple in 2016. While the company doesn’t market it as a tool for people with hearing loss, it does say that it can help its user hear a conversation in a noisy area or hear someone from across the room.

AirPods Are Ubiquitous Nowadays

Using the Live Listen feature, AirPods become something like a personal sound amplification product. So, a group of researchers got curious and wondered how AirPods with the Live Listen feature would perform compared to medical hearing aids. They recruited 21 individuals with mild and moderate hearing loss and started testing the two options under a variety of different conditions. Apparently, in some situations, the AirPods helped people hear better, and in a quiet environment, they even performed as well as basic hearing aids, being only slightly inferior to the premium products. In a noisy setting, the AirPods Pro was as good as the premium hearing aids when the noise came from the sides and didn’t help at all when the noise came from in front.

AirPods Are Inspiring Scientists

The new findings related to AirPods can help scientists and engineers design hearing aids and other personal sound amplification products that will be more sensitive in certain directions and, thus, more effective. Though the AirPods didn’t perform perfectly, the research shows they might be a viable option for people who need sound amplification. Earbuds are significantly cheaper than hearing aids, and that’s just another reason why they might be a preferred option for some.

In addition to being affordable, earbuds are very popular, which can relieve the social stigma that some people have with hearing aids. The cost of hearing aids is now expected to come down after the establishment of a new category for over-the-counter hearing aids that can be sold without a prescription. Still, the new devices might cost over $1,000, and that would make the good old AirPods a more affordable option.