Why Apple Might Be Adding Cameras to Your Next AirPods

What do you look for in a new pair of earbuds? High-quality audio? Easy pairing with your devices? Smart features to improve daily use? Sure, all of that. But how about cameras? That might sound ridiculous, but Apple is reportedly seriously considering this—and if the rumors are true, your next pair of AirPods might come equipped with cameras.

According to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst known for accurate Apple predictions, Apple plans to ship AirPods with embedded cameras by 2026. However, these cameras wouldn’t be used for taking photos or videos like the ones on your iPhone. Instead, they’d resemble the infrared cameras responsible for Face ID on your iPhone, which scan your face to unlock your phone. Kuo says Foxconn will supply the IR cameras for the AirPods, with plans to produce enough modules for roughly 10 million pairs.

Why AirPods Might Be Getting Cameras

Spatial Computing: Kuo suggests these AirPods will pair with Apple’s Vision Pro and future headsets to enhance spatial computing and improve spatial audio performance. If your AirPods can map your environment, they can deliver a more realistic 3D experience by making sounds appear to come from specific areas in the room.

In-Air Gestures: Apple is also exploring “in-air gesture control” for AirPods. While details are sparse, this could allow you to control your AirPods by moving your hands near the earbuds instead of physically touching them. In addition to existing physical controls like squeezing and swiping the stem, in-air gestures could introduce new controls such as toggling Spatial Audio, playing a specific playlist, or starting a phone call.

It’s not just Kuo who believes Apple is working on AirPods with cameras. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also reports that Apple is interested in the idea, alongside other upgrades to its wearable products. I’m all for hardware that improves the overall user experience. If adding cameras to AirPods achieves that, go for it, Apple—just don’t try selling me on “Ear Selfies.”

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