Apple’s AirPods will have cameras in the future, report says

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Apple’s AirPods will one day come with built-in cameras.

While that may sound preposterous for a gadget whose primary purpose is to deliver sound into your ears, there is a good reason for it: spatial experiences.

According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is planning to mass produce AirPods with infrared (IR) camera modules by 2026. These cameras would be similar to the Face ID received on the iPhone, and would like be produced by major Apple supplier Foxconn.

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These cameras, which could detect environmental image changes, would enable new spatial audio experiences, Kuo claims. In an example provided by Kuo, a user could watch a video with Vision Pro and AirPods on, and when they turn their head towards a specific direction, the sound source coming from that direction could be emphasized to enhance the experience.

Apple puts a big emphasis on spatial audio in most of its audio-related products, and it’s a big selling point of Apple’s audio streaming service, Apple Music. With the addition of infrared cameras to AirPods, Apple could probably get a lot more precise head movement tracking, allowing for richer experiences. It’s unclear whether the new features would be exclusive to using AirPods together with Vision Pro, or if they would extend to pure audio listening as well.

Even without the IR cameras, Apple plans to enable some new features to AirPods with iOS 18, including new head gestures, such as nodding or shaking your head to answer or decline a call. Personalized Spatial Audio with head tracking will also become available for gaming for users using the newest AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max. These features will become widely available this fall, when iOS 18 comes out of beta.



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