Apple plans to make AirPods with in-built cameras from 2026 – Firstpost


If Apple goes ahead with this innovation, it will continue the company's trend of constantly improving its iconic white earbuds. Image Credit: Apple

Apple is reportedly planning to add a camera to its AirPods, and these new earbuds are expected to be mass produced by 2026.

This development, reported by analyst and Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo, suggests that the tech giant aims to include built-in infrared (IR) cameras in the AirPods to enhance their functionality, especially with augmented reality (AR) headsets.

Kuo's report suggests that these new AirPods will feature an IR camera similar to the Face ID module found in the iPhone and iPad. The primary purpose of this integration is to enhance the spatial audio capabilities of Apple's current and future AR headsets, including the Vision Pro. The IR camera on the AirPods is expected to detect environmental image changes, which could enable in-air gesture controls, improving human-device interactions.

The integration of these advanced AirPods with the Vision Pro goggles could significantly enhance Apple's spatial-computing experience.

For example, if users turn their head to look in a particular direction, the sound source coming from that direction can be emphasized, creating a more immersive experience.

This improvement stems from a supply-chain survey cited by Kuo, which highlights the potential for more lifelike interactions when combining the upgraded AirPods with the Vision Pro.

For users not interested in buying an Apple headset, the IR cameras in AirPods could still offer benefits such as in-air gesture control. This functionality, similar to the Face ID feature, could bring new ways to interact with devices using hand movements in the air.

The idea of ​​camera-equipped AirPods isn't entirely new. A previous report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman mentioned Apple's interest in exploring this concept. Kuo's latest insights bolster these speculations and provide more details on a possible implementation.

Foxconn has been identified as the new product introduction (NPI) supplier for the IR cameras used in AirPods. According to Kuo, Foxconn's annual capacity plan is between 18-20 million units, which equates to about 10 million pairs of AirPods.

If Apple goes ahead with this innovation, it will continue the company's trend of constantly improving its iconic white earbuds.

Over the years, Apple has added features like wireless connectivity, noise cancellation, head tracking, touch controls, and voice commands to the AirPods, transforming them from simple earbuds into sophisticated tech accessories.

There have also been talks about including health-tracking features in the AirPods, though Apple has yet to release such functionality.

Other companies, such as Amazfit with its Powerbuds Pro, have attempted to do this, but with limited success. Even specialized fitness brands such as Fitbit and Garmin haven't integrated advanced health-tracking technology into their earbuds, possibly because of the challenges involved.

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