Jason Snell of MacWorld has shared a new thought piece, in which he claims that Apple’s AirPods Pro hardware could be just the start of Apple’s march into advanced and consumer-friendly audio-processing. He suggests that a future iteration of Apple’s AirPods hardware could dramatically blur the lines between headphones and hearing aids.
Snell agrees with a previous report, that while AirPods Pro is an extremely popular product, they are also likely representative of Apple’s medium-to-long-term view of moving into advanced audio-processing that could possibly have a huge impact in the augmented reality world.
Consumers are already extremely comfortable with visually overlaying software-provided information over the real world so it makes perfect sense that they’d do the same with audio.
The AirPods Transparency mode – which is one of three modes offered on AirPods Pro – really lays the groundwork for that, as outlined by Snell:
The third mode, Transparency, is the most interesting. It relays sound from an external microphone and layers it over whatever you’re listening to, so you are artificially hearing the outside world. It’s a dramatically different sound and I’ve heard a lot of people say they appreciate being able to listen to audio while also having the sounds of the real world accessible.
Apple makes no secret about its love of healthcare and trying to revolutionize that industry? So, does that mean that the company could be looking to either make a future iteration of AirPods work as a smart hearing aid or spin a product off using the same technology?
Only time will tell on that one but it’s highly possible that Apple’s expertise and its move toward putting more and more processing power into AirPods could have real-world benefits for users, such as being able to clearly hear PA announcements at airports or train stations. A future version could also come with a mode that blocks everything out except for human voices, for example.
We haven’t heard much about Apple’s ongoing AR plans but having the ability to pack in enough powerful audio processing into an AirPods-sized product and offer various, extremely convenient modes, would be a game-changer for most of us.
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