Study: AirPods Pro can serve as a hearing aid

According to a small study, Apple AirPods Pro is able to hold a candle to even expensive hearing aids up to moderate hearing loss.

AirPods Pro as a hearing aid: Apple’s in-ears with active noise cancellation in combination with an iPhone have the potential to serve as “adequate hearing aids”, according to a study. In hearing tests for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, they performed similarly well in certain laboratory situations as very expensive behind-the-ear hearing aids.

The best performance in understanding speech ultimately offered several thousand dollars in expensive medical premium hearing aids, but in a quiet environment, there would have been no significant difference in the study participants with the AirPods Pro, write the Taiwanese scientists. However, the Apple earphones performed worse in the study if background noise came from the direction of the speaker at the same time.

The 21 participants each played a spoken sentence, the content of which had to be reproduced afterward. Apple’s “Live Listening” function integrated into iOS was used and not the transparency mode of the AirPods, which can also amplify speech. When listening live, iPhone acts as a microphone and amplifies the sound output from AirPods.

Also in the laboratory test of the researchers, the AirPods Pro met in an electroacoustic analysis almost all criteria of a standard for so-called “Personal Sound Amplification Products” (PSAP), which are in the USA certain hearing aids without a doctor’s prescription. The older AirPods of the 2nd generation, which were also tested, performed significantly worse.

The new common true wireless in-ears thus have the potential to serve as comparatively inexpensive hearing aids, the researchers conclude – this must now also be examined more closely with devices from other manufacturers. The high price and stigma discourage many hearing-impaired people from wearing a hearing aid, according to the study published in the scientific journal iScience – widely available earphones could be a way out. With only 21 participants, the sample size was very small, but the statistical significance was sufficient, according to the researchers. However, the absence of participants with profound hearing loss reduces generalizability.


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