Study: Apple’s AirPods Pro has ‘clear, functional value’ for folks with mild to moderate hearing loss

Auditory Insight, a consultancy for the hearing healthcare industry, details Apple’s forays into hearing health in a new research report. The tech giant’s solution integrates customized hearing assistance with noise protection in one device: the AirPods Pro earbuds.

“Traditional hearing aids use algorithms to amplify speech signals, but do not provide a noise cancellation mode,” explains Nancy Williams, president of Auditory Insight. “However, we believe that as consumers become more engaged in their hearing health, they will view on-demand protection to be as important as amplification.”

She says that Apple’s hearing health solution has relevance for the hearing loss market of 40 million people over 50. Less than 15% of that population regularly wears a hearing aid, due to barriers of price, access, efficacy, and perceived social stigma.

According to Auditory Insight, major components of Apple’s hearing health solution detailed in the research note include:

  • The AirPods Pro offer customized amplification in Transparency mode.
  • Consumers may tailor Transparency mode by loading their audiogram into the Apple Health App.
  • To obtain an audiogram, consumers can take a pure-tone hearing test on apps such as Mimi or SonicCloud.
  • The AirPods Pro offer noise protection via automatic noise cancellation.
  • Apple’s Hearing Study finds that 25% of participants are exposed to unsafe noise levels daily.

Auditory Insight’s research note provides examples of how consumers need both amplification and noise protection. A worker in a loud environment, for example, requires protection throughout the day, punctuated by conversations with coworkers requiring customized amplification, switching rapidly between the two states.

The research note highlights drawbacks to Apple’s AirPods Pro:

  • Current battery life of 4.5 hours is insufficient for people who wear hearing aids all day.
  • They are personal sound amplification devices, rather than FDA-cleared hearing aids.
  • An independent study by Hearing Tracker shows the devices don’t amplify high pitches as effectively as conventional hearing aids

“Despite limitations, we believe Apple’s integration of customized amplification and protection provides clear, functional value for people with mild to moderate hearing loss,” asserts Williams. “For the millions of Apple iPhone users who already own AirPods Pro, the solution is easily accessible. And the widely accepted design provides a welcome alternative for people who shy from traditional hearing aids.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.