A study published in iScience on Nov. 15 says that headphones can achieve similar effects to hearing aids.
In 2016, Apple first introduced “Live Listen” to Apple phones, a feature that helps users with hearing impairments by amplifying sound in their surroundings through Airpods wireless headphones.
This study investigated whether the widely used AirPods series of headphones (including Airpods 2 and AirPods Pro, which has noise cancellation) could be used as an alternative hearing aid.
Researchers recruited 21 subjects with mild to moderate hearing impairment and made them wear Airpods 2, AirPods Pro, regular hearing aids and high-end hearing aids.
The researchers would read a short sentence and then ask the subjects to repeat the sentence.
The results showed that in a quiet environment, the AirPods Pro performed equally well compared to the regular hearing aids and slightly less well than the high-end hearing aids.
Although the AirPods 2 had the lowest performance of the four products, it also helped the subjects hear more clearly than if they were not wearing a hearing aid.
Also, in a noisy environment, the AirPods Pro performed as well as high-end hearing aids if the noise was coming from the subject’s side.
But neither AirPods helped subjects hear better when the noise came from in front of them.