AirPods 3 could use the power of light to monitor your health

AirPods Pro
The AirPods Pro. (Image credit: Future)

AirPods 3 rumors are streaming in, with the latest tip to reach us suggesting that Apple is planning to fit ambient light sensors to future versions of the AirPods – sensors which could make them much more useful as health monitoring devices, akin to the best fitness headphones in the world.

A report in DigiTimes (via MacRumors) passes on information from the Apple supply chain that production of these ambient light sensors is being ramped up, quite possibly to get ready for some brand new wireless earbuds.

There are a lot of dots to join here, and there isn't necessarily just one way to join them – but that said, it would make a lot of sense for Apple to want to boost the fitness tracking capabilities of future AirPod models, much as it did with the Apple Watch.

Indeed, we've heard several rumors along these lines before. Health and fitness is a big focus for Apple, with the aforementioned Apple Watch featuring all kinds of sensors and features to make your life a wholesome and well-balanced one.

We'll have to wait and see whether these light sensors will come with the rumored AirPods 3, the AirPods Pro Lite, or the over-ear AirPods Studio – in any case, the next big Apple event will take place on June 22 with WWDC 2020, so we might not be waiting long.

Light up, light up

Apple analysts have also previously weighed in with predictions that the Apple AirPods would gradually get extra fitness-related sensors over time. The more data the Apple Health app can get the better, from Apple's perspective.

Light can be shone through blood vessels to gauge heart rate and pulse rate, and to measure blood oxygen levels – the amount of light that passes through can be interpreted to determine these and other measurements.

As MacRumors points out though, the AirPods might need something of a redesign for this to work. It's possible that the technology will have to wait until a new version of the PowerBeats Pro, with their attached ear clips, reach the market.

This is perhaps something to look out for in the 3rd-gen AirPods, tipped to be arriving this year or in 2021. Don't be surprised if enhanced health and fitness tracking are among the key features included to tempt people to upgrade.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.