Apple’s Future AirPods Could Usher In An Era Of Earbuds With Built-In Cameras

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Apple may be looking into adding built-in cameras to its highly-popular AirPods, but not for the reason one may think. If cameras are added to Apple’s earbuds, it would more than likely be for enhancing the audio experience for those wearing Vision Pro goggles, or for adding “in-air” gestures to AirPods.

AirPods have long been a favorite among the Apple fanbase, delivering high-quality sound and seamless integration into the Apple ecosystem. However, long-term products, such as AirPods, need innovative features added with each new generation if they hope to remain a fan favorite. It seems Apple may do just that, as it reportedly looks into adding IR cameras to its AirPods.

While Mark Gurman hinted at the possibility of Apple adding cameras to AirPods first, a new report from Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo seems to add more credence to Gurman’s claim. Kuo indicated Apple intends to mass-produce new AirPods with built-in infrared cameras by 2026. He also cited a supply-chain survey, which pointed to the Cupertino-based company intends to pair the enhanced AirPods with Vision Pro goggles by making the company’s spatial computing experience more lifelike. This would involve a user turning their head in a specific direction, and hearing the sound source in that direction more prominently.

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Someone wearing a pair of AR glasses, such as the Amazon Echo Frames, Meta Ray-Bans, or the cheaper sibling to the Vision Pro googles Apple is reportedly working on, could also have the same experience. If Apple made this type of functionality available to other companies, such as Meta and Amazon, it would definitely help sales in the future.

The idea of adding cameras to wearable devices is not new, however. Meta’s Ray-Bans actually have a 12MP ultra-wide lens built into the frame of the glasses capable of capturing high-quality images. Placing a camera into the much smaller AirPods, however, that can take high-resolution images would more than likely prove extremely difficult. Which is why Apple is looking into adding low-resolution cameras, according to reports.

According to Gurman, the idea of adding cameras to Airpods began taking shape last year, under the codename B798. The integrated cameras could also enhance Apple Intelligence, which should be much better by 2026. Imagine being able to just look at something and asking Siri, “What am I looking at?”

What are your thoughts on Apple potentially adding cameras to AirPods? Is this something you would find useful, or would you worry about Apple being able to see everything you see? Let us know in the comments.