According to renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple plans to start mass producing updated AirPods with integrated infrared camera modules by 2026. Kuo stated in a Medium post—which 9to5Mac observed—that these infrared cameras are expected to mirror the Face ID receivers featured in iPhones.

Foxconn is going to supply the infrared parts:

The new infrared components are apparently supplied by Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics company preparing to deliver parts for about 10 million AirPods first. Although it’s still unclear which AirPods model will be the first to use this technology, Kuo believes that the AirPods Pro are the most likely option because they now only offer lossless music when used with the Vision Pro.

Foxconn is the supplier for the IR camera’s new product introduction (NPI), with an estimated yearly capacity of 18–20 million units, or roughly 10 million AirPods. The state of the market will determine the actual demand and orders, according to Kuo.

The goal of the IR cameras in AirPods is to enhance audio quality and spatial computing by integrating with Apple Vision Pro and future headsets. A greater variety of gestures are possible for improved user interaction because to these cameras’ ability to detect changes in the surroundings. Turning one’s head to stare in a certain direction, for example, can improve the sound coming from that direction when watching a video with Apple Vision Pro and the new AirPods, enhancing the spatial audio experience.

“Apple has consistently prioritized enhancing the ecosystem’s competitiveness through meticulous planning across hardware, software, and services, and spatial computing is no exception.” Apple, which has a major lead in this field, is expected to create new and strong growth momentum as the commercialization circumstances for spatial computing evolve in the future, according to Kuo.

Recall that earlier in February, Bloomberg News’ Mark Gurman revealed that Apple was looking into a number of wearable form factor concepts, such as AirPods that may contain cameras. The startup is also looking into creating a smart ring, smart spectacles that resemble Meta Ray-Bans, and next Apple Watch models.

Topics #AirPods #Apple #Camera #iPhones #iPod #Ming-Chi Kuo #news #Tim Cook