Apple’s AirPods Pro earbuds can potentially act as hearing aids for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss, a new study published in the journal iScience revealed. The study was conducted by researchers from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan. Experts looked at 21 participants with mild to moderate hearing loss and tested a variety of hearing aids. These included premium and basic hearing aids and AirPods Pro earbuds and Airpods 2.
For the study, the AirPods were paired with an iPhone with the environmental noise amplifier app dubbed ‘Live Listen’ running. The participants were asked to wear the devices and listen to short sentences read by researchers. After that, they had to repeat the statement verbatim.
The researchers found that the AirPods 2 performed similarly well to basic hearing aids in quiet environments. In noisier environments, the AirPods Pro – which have a built-in noise cancelling feature – had comparable performance to the premium hearing aid – specifically when the noises came from the side of the participant. However, when the noises came from the front of the participants, both AirPods models failed to help participants hear better.
“These wireless earbuds are of course not perfect, but they would be a good starting point for many patients who don’t have access to professional hearing aids. They will see an increase in quality of life even with these earbuds,” said Yen-fu Cheng, the study’s corresponding author, as per Science Alert.
Further, Mr Cheng also highlighted that many people would be more comfortable wearing Apple’s AirPods all the time as opposed to wearing hearing aids due to the social stigma around them. He even noted that people with hearing loss often require visiting health professionals for fitting and fine-tuning which gets cumbersome for many.
Therefore, as per the Taiwanese researchers, Apple AirPods Pro could potentially present a more accessible alternative for patients.
“Globally, the wireless earphone market is growing rapidly. Some companies are interested in exploring the possibility of designing earbuds with sound amplification features. Our study proves that the idea is plausible,” the researchers stated as per Science Alert.
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