Apple patents wireless earbuds with biometric sensors: 4 notes

Apple is looking to add health-monitoring features to its wireless earbuds, AirPods, according to a newly awarded patent reported by The Verge.

Here are four notes on the patent, which the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded to Apple Dec. 4:

1. The approved patent application, spotted by 9to5Mac, primarily describes an interchangeable AirPods design, which would use built-in biometric sensors to determine whether an earbud is placed in a wearer's left or right ear and adjust the "operation of the earbud" accordingly.

2. The patent also notes the biometric sensors could be used to perform health monitoring, with at least one of the sensors "configured to be pressed up against a portion of the tragus," so that the AirPods could perform heart rate monitoring and take body temperature measurements.

3. Although Apple has been awarded the patent, the technology could still be years away from being deployed as a consumer product, The Verge reports. However, the patent hints at Apple's vision for its next generation of AirPods.

4. Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst known for his strong track record of predicting new features in Apple products, has said Apple is planning to release a complete redesign of its AirPods in 2020. In a Dec. 4 note, Mr. Kuo said Apple was likely looking into health features for AirPods and suggested the company may integrate these features with the Apple Watch's health capabilities.

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