Apple discovers that AirPods can be used to monitor breathing

A new Apple study reveals that headphones like AirPods can be used for medical purposes, a possible secondary utility for future versions.

The study has been published by Apple and researchers from the Cornell University, and is focused on how to estimate the respiratory rate using the sound obtained through wearable devices with a microphone; such as the AirPods Pro, which have multiple microphones to capture external noise and eliminate it from music using active noise cancellation technology.

Respiratory rate is a piece of information that can be especially useful to measure general health, particularly physical fitness of the user; there are several factors that can change it, such as exercise, but also chronic diseases. Therefore, the study of the respiratory rhythm can be used to draw conclusions about the individual’s state of health.

Although this is nothing new, the problem is that to measure the respiratory rate it is necessary to go to the doctor and request the pertinent tests with the professional equipment. What Apple and Cornell researchers have achieved is to obtain the same data with wearable devices that the user could carry on a daily basis.

To do this, they created a system that analyzed the respiratory rate from small pieces of audio, obtained from volunteer patients who were asked to exercise. The data were obtained during exercise and just after, to compare them with those obtained by traditional methods.

The researchers conclude that these pieces of audio can be used to estimate the respiratory rate in a passive way. This seems to imply that Apple is developing a functionality within Apple Health that will allow us to connect the AirPods to measure our respiratory rate and thus obtain another important data, to which they will be added others obtained with the Apple Watch such as the heart rate to give health recommendations and notify the user in case a problem is detected.

However, Apple has not announced anything similar at the moment, and he has only published the results of this investigation without notifying anyone at the beginning of the month; It wasn’t until discovered them by MyHealthyApple that this research became known.


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