AirPods Pro are as effective as hearing aids according to researchers

A study shows that Airpods Pro models can replace medical hearing aids in many situations.

The AirPods Pro could in some cases help people who are hard of hearing. A new study from iScience published on November 15 reveals that a pair of wireless headphones from Apple can perform as well as hearing aids. The researchers recruited 21 participants to test the performance of the second-generation AirPods and Pro models against a premium hearing aid costing $10,000 and a mainstream product costing $1,500. Each person was asked to repeat word for word short sentences read aloud by a scientist.

Test results indicate that the quality of AirPods Pro is comparable to basic hearing aids in quiet environments. Better, it would only be slightly worse than the high-end models. The participants had used the “Listen in real time” function as well as the Boost conversation. These options allow you to amplify the sound in a directional way, which helps to increase the voices of people around you. As for the second-generation AirPods, they performed the worst among the four devices.

Autonomy prevents Airpods Pro from being considered a medical object. // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

Concerns of comfort and autonomy

These results are encouraging from the point of view of costs for patients. AirPods are significantly cheaper than hearing aids. However, this does not make them adequate substitutes, especially for people with more advanced hearing loss. In terms of autonomy, Apple models are not able to compete with medical products: 4h30 of conversation against 24h for hearing aids. The headphones are also not comfortable enough to wear all day. AirPods can’t be considered a hearing aid for authorities, but this study does confirm Apple’s medical ambitions.

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Apple AirPods Pro (2022) // Source: Thomas Ancelle for Numerama

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