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Apple AirPods can work just as well as expensive hearing aids, study finds


AirPods 2 work the same as basic hearing aids in quiet environments.

Apple’s AirPods Pro headphones can potentially act as hearing aids for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss, a new study published in the journal iScience has found. The study was conducted by researchers at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan. Experts examined 21 participants with mild to moderate hearing loss and tested a variety of hearing aids. These included premium and basic hearing aids and AirPods Pro and Airpods 2 headphones.

For the study, the AirPods were paired with an iPhone with the environmental noise amplification app called “Live Listen” running. Participants were asked to wear the devices and listen to short sentences read by researchers. After that, they had to repeat the statement verbatim.

The researchers found that the AirPods 2 performed the same as basic hearing aids in quiet environments. In noisier environments, the AirPods Pro – which have built-in noise cancellation – performed on par with the high-end hearing aid – especially when noises came from the participant’s side. However, when noises came from in front of participants, both models of AirPods failed to help participants hear better.

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“These wireless headphones are of course not perfect, but they would be a good starting point for many patients who do not have access to professional hearing aids. They will see an improvement in their quality of life even with these headphones” , said Yen-fu Cheng, the corresponding author of the study, according to Scientific alert.

In addition, Mr. Cheng also pointed out that many people would be more comfortable wearing Apple AirPods all the time rather than wearing hearing aids due to the social stigma surrounding them. He even noted that people who are hard of hearing often need to see medical professionals for adjustment and fine-tuning, which becomes tedious for many.

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Therefore, according to the Taiwanese researchers, Apple AirPods Pro could potentially present a more accessible alternative for patients.

“Overall, the market for wireless headphones is growing rapidly. Some companies are interested in exploring the possibility of designing headphones with sound-boosting features. Our study proves that the idea is plausible,” the researchers said according to Scientific alert.

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