On top of listening to your favorite tunes on your AirPods Pro, you might not know that the earbuds can also act as a helpful hearing device. The tech on Apple’s wireless headphones has the potential to assist people who might struggle with hearing—and perform nearly as well as hearing aids.
A study published on November 15 in the journal iScience found that some AirPods were able to help people with mild to moderate hearing loss. Audiology experts and bioengineers in Taiwan tested Apple’s AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro alongside premium and basic hearing aids sold in the region. Among the two wireless headphone models, the AirPods Pro stood out, meeting four out of five technology standards for hearing aids, the researchers note.
“We want to try to break the barrier and popularize the use of hearing devices for our patients,” says Yen-Fu Cheng, an author on the study and an otolaryngologist at Taipei Veterans General Hospital.
An array of assistive hearing devices, many of which don’t require a prescription, have been exploding on the market—but they come with different benefits. For instance, personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) aren’t intentionally designed as a hearing tool, but happen to amplify audio in ways that might help certain patients.