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Why would AirPods need cameras? It’s NOT for taking pictures – here’s what’s known about this bizarre update so far…



Apple likes putting cameras in things even if they aren’t used for taking pictures. FACE ID is a camera, of course, and you use it to securely access your iPhone, and we’ve all seen the viral video of FACE ID taking pictures of your face every five seconds, using its IR sensor – not creepy at all. 

With AirPods, the addition of a camera – according to the leakers behind the intel – would be used to unlock improved gesture-based interactions with AirPods, so, using a hand gesture for instance, you could skip a track forwards or backwards. But that’s just the basic stuff, there’s likely way more applications Apple is working on. 

AirPods With Cameras Will Also Deeply Integrate With Apple Vision Pro 

Apple Vision Pro release date and pricePin

Remember Apple Vision Pro? That $4000 headset that literally no one bought and Apple eventually went all non-plussed on? Well, according to Ming Chi-Kuo, these new AirPods with FACE ID-style IR camera tech will deeply integrate with them which is great news for the 16 people that bought Vision Pro. 

Possible Uses For A FACE ID-Style Infrared Camera Inside AirPods

Other possible uses for the camera inside AirPods could include adaptive volume and/or ANC control. Imagine you’re out running or cycling, you’re using a combination of busy roads and deserted country roads, with this new IR camera tech, your AirPods could detect vehicles approaching from behind and drop the volume or initiate a notification to tell you that a vehicle is approaching. 

As for other potential applications for this tech, here’s just a few potential ideas off the top of my head – some are, understandably, more plausible than others (hello, FACE ID for your ear canal)…

Enhanced Spatial Audio

  • Head Tracking: An IR camera could provide more accurate head tracking, improving the spatial audio experience by precisely adjusting sound based on head movement and position.
  • Room Mapping: The camera could potentially map the user’s surroundings, allowing for more immersive and realistic spatial audio that takes into account room acoustics.

Gesture Controls

  • Touch-free Operation: Users could control playback, answer calls, or activate voice assistants through simple hand gestures detected by the IR camera, without physically touching the AirPods.
  • Sign Language Recognition: For users with hearing impairments, the camera could potentially recognize basic sign language gestures to control device functions

Biometric Authentication

  • Ear Canal Recognition: Similar to facial recognition, the IR camera could potentially scan and recognize the unique shape of a user’s ear canal for secure device unlocking and personalized settings.
  • Multi-user Support: This could enable seamless switching between different user profiles on shared AirPods, adjusting settings and preferences automatically.

Health and Wellness Monitoring

  • Temperature Sensing: An IR camera could potentially monitor body temperature, providing early warning signs of fever or illness.
  • Stress Detection: By analyzing subtle changes in blood flow or facial expressions, the system could potentially detect stress levels and offer relaxation prompts or adjust audio to soothing content.

Augmented Reality (AR) Integration

  • Environmental Scanning: The IR camera could scan surroundings to provide contextual information, potentially working in conjunction with AR glasses or smartphone apps.
  • Object Recognition: Identifying objects in the user’s vicinity could enable audio descriptions or translations of signs and text in foreign languages.

Adaptive EQ and Sound Optimization

  • Ear Fit Detection: The camera could analyze how well the AirPods fit in the ear, adjusting EQ settings for optimal sound quality based on the seal and positioning.
  • Ambient Sound Analysis: By detecting the acoustic properties of the environment, the AirPods could adjust audio output for the best listening experience in any setting.

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