AirPods and Apple WatchSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • A new report says future AirPods will include ambient light sensors.
  • The report doesn't say what the new sensors will be used for.
  • They could be part of a health initiative.

Apple is set to add ambient light sensors (ALS) to a future pair of AirPods, according to a tease of a future DigiTimes report. But that teaser doesn't say why.

While the full report might have more information, all we currently have to work with is a claim that ALS will be added to AirPods within the next two years.

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

So why would Apple add such sensors to earbuds? AirPods already know when they are inside your ears thanks to the optical sensors that are present. It's unlikely that those sensors would be replaced which leaves us with the possibility that a new feature could be on the – admittedly far away – horizon. And that could be related to health.

Apple already makes a considerable health play with Apple Watch. But a patent from October last year suggested that it was looking to bring similar functionality to AirPods. That could include tracking a wearer's heart rate, temperature, and more.

Biometric AirPod sensorsSource: iMore

Portable electronic device users have shown increasing interest in biometric tracking. Biometric sensors often need to be in close or even direct contact with the skin to properly measure and track biometric parameters along the lines of heart rate, VO.sub.2, and core temperature. Requiring a user to place a sensor in direct contact with the skin to track these types of biometric data can be overly burdensome, making adoption of the biometric tracking more difficult. Consequently, mechanisms for unobtrusively measuring biometric parameters are highly desirable.

The use of ALS could allow this patent to come to fruition – fingers crossed that the full DigiTimes report will shed some more light on Apple's plans.