AirPods Pro Paired With an iPhone Could Be an Alternative to Hearing Aids, Study Finds


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Nina Raemont

Apple’s AirPods Pro earbuds could serve as an inexpensive alternative to hearing aids, according to a study published this week in the iScience journal.

Testing the AirPods, a group of researchers in Taiwan found that when the earbuds were paired with a smartphone, “no significant differences were found regarding speech perception between AirPods Pro and hearing aids in quiet.” 

Though that wasn’t the case when background noises were present, the researchers concluded that “AirPods Pro may have the potential to be a hearing assistive device for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.”

The researchers tested the AirPods Pro with an iPhone XS Max, released in 2018 and powered by iOS 13 software, which came out the following year.

Researchers performed the study on a small sample size of 21 people. The Veterans General Hospitals and University System of Taiwan Joint Research Program and the Ministry of Science and Technology funded the study. 

The latest version of Apple’s AirPods Pro, released earlier this year, retail for $249. A pair of hearing aids can range in price from $1,000 to $4,000, the Hearing Industries Association told NPR.

In August, the US Food and Drug Administration finalized a ruling that would make over-the-counter hearing aids accessible to Americans. The ruling would help people save about $2,800 per hearing aid pair, Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, told NPR. 

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