Apple could build brain-tracking AirPods for sleep and meditation

New patent shows potential new features
Wareable AirPods pro 2
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The Apple AirPods could soon read your mind, if the innovation revealed in a new patent sees the light of day.

The filing reveals how the in-ear headphones could measure brain activity via electrodes. It comes hot on the heels of news that next-gen AirPods could get body temperature and hearing aid features.

The patent (spotted by Patently Apple) references electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), and electrooculography (EOG) sensors that could monitor brain signals.

The filing also talks about how the device may need to be customized to each user's ear for a proper fit – something Apple has experimented on with its fit test.

Electrodes on the tip of the AirPod-looking device could pick up on brain activity. But why? 

> AirPods Pro 2 review

Patently AppleAirPods sensor
The patent doesn’t talk about the end user case or the reasoning, so we’ll have to do a bit of lateral thinking ourselves.

The first thought it that AirPods could become some kind of controller for something like the Reality Pro headset. We’ve already seen synergy there with the launch, but brain activity sensors could turn AirPods into a controller.

We saw a spate of these in 2016, and while rudimentary, it could be powerful when combined with the eye-tracking that was developed for Reality Pro.

However, there could also be applications for sleep training.

Wareable says:

We’ve seen startups such as Kokoon and Muse use this type of technology to produce devices that promote sleep, meditation, and concentration. 

These are certainly areas that Apple is interested in, and the idea that this could be a feature of future AirPods is exciting – and would bring the product to new audiences, with new use cases.

Pop your AirPods in for a blast of focus while you’re at work, or before bed for wind down.

Sleep tracking, mindfulness, medication, and guided breathing are all areas that Apple plays in right now – so having this built into AirPods could be a game-changer.

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James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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