While wireless earbuds are typically engineered to isolate users from external noises, a team of researchers from the University of California San Diego has taken a unique approach.
They have enhanced a pair of Apple AirPods Pro to not only listen to the world but also to monitor the wearer's brainwave activity, opening doors to advanced health monitoring capabilities.
This concept aligns with Apple's own exploration into health-related features, particularly following the success of the health tracking functions in the Apple Watch.
The quest to incorporate advanced health monitoring features into wearable tech has been steadily gaining momentum.
Rumours suggest that future iterations of wireless AirPods may include temperature sensors, offering more accurate body temperature readings through the ear canal compared to traditional wrist-based measurements.
Furthermore, Apple has even patented a design featuring electrodes for recording brainwave activity, akin to electroencephalography (EEG) scans performed in hospitals. However, patent filings don't guarantee immediate product integration.
In a promising development, UC San Diego researchers have taken proactive steps. They've engineered a "stamp-like stretchable sensor" designed to affix to off-the-shelf wireless earbuds seamlessly.
Recognising that ear shapes vary, these sensors are engineered with flexibility, ensuring consistent skin contact when the earbud is inserted.
For comfort, the sensors are coated with a hydrogel film that's both hydrophilic and absorbent, allowing the collection of organic acid, lactate, present in sweat during physical activities.