After initially expected to arrive this year, we’ll now likely see the second generation of Apple’s AirPods sometime early next year. However, a recently uncovered Apple patent filing reveals a pair of future earbuds that are exciting in many aspects. The patent was filed in 2017 but was awarded to Apple this week. It describes a pair of interchangeable, universal AirPods equipped with fitness and health tracking hardware.
The interchangeability comes from the fact that these AirPods would be symmetrical. They can be inserted (and fit) both ears. Depending on the sensor readings, the earbuds would intelligently figure out whether they are used on the left of on the right.
This application relates to earbuds configured with one or more biometric sensors. At least one of the biometric sensors is configured to be pressed up against a portion of the tragus for making biometric measurements. In some embodiments, the housing of the earbud can be symmetric so that the earbud can be worn interchangeably in either a left or a right ear of a user. In such an embodiment, the earbud can include a sensor and circuitry configured to determine and alter operation of the earbud in accordance to which ear the earbud is determined to be sitting in.
Biometric sensors would not only be able to read heart-rate data for fitness tracking. They could also supply other information, like body temperature, or even blood pressure. These AirPods are not to be confused with the upcoming second generation AirPods. Those arriving next year, with wireless charging, would improve the current design.
The AirPods described in this patent, if they ever reach development phase, let alone commercial availability, are further down the road. However, it’s good to see Apple continuously working on innovating and improving its products.