Apple’s AirPods Pro earbuds could be an inexpensive alternative to hearing aids, according to a study published this week in the journal iScience.
Testing AirPods, a group of researchers in Taiwan found that when the earphones were paired with a smartphone, “no significant differences were found in terms of speech perception between AirPods Pro and hearing aids in Quiet.”
Although this was not the case when background noise was present, the researchers concluded, “AirPods Pro may have the potential to be a hearing aid for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.”
The researchers tested the AirPods Pro with an iPhone XS Max, released in 2018 running iOS 13, which was released the following year.
The researchers conducted the study on a small sample size of 21 people. Veterans General Hospitals, the University System of the Taiwan Joint Research Program, and the Ministry of Science and Technology funded the study.
The latest Apple AirPods Pro launched earlier this year at a price of $249. The Hearing Industries Association told NPR that a pair of hearing aids can range in price from $1,000 to $4,000.
In August, the FDA finalized a ruling that would issueHearing within reach of Americans. Brian Dease, director of the National Economic Council, told NPR that the ruling will help people save about $2,800 per pair of hearing aids.