New AirPods Pro with cameras? It's not as strange as it sounds.

New AirPods Pro with cameras? It's not as strange as it sounds.

Future versions of Apple’s AirPods Pro could be equipped with cameras to assist with Spatial Audio experiences, according to a well-known Apple analyst.

In a blog post, the Apple watcher Ming-Chi Kuo said the cameras wouldn’t be used in the conventional sense to capture imagery, but to make the audio product more aware of its environment.

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Kuo says his supply chain sources say the IR camera is similar to what Apple uses for the Face ID receiver in iPhone handsets. He says the feature could come to the fore in current and future generations of the Vision Pro headset.

Kuo writes: “The new AirPods is expected to be used with Vision Pro and future Apple headsets to enhance the user experience of spatial audio and strengthen the spatial computing ecosystem.

“For example, when a user is watching a video with Vision Pro and wearing this new AirPods, if users turn their heads to look in a specific direction, the sound source in that direction can be emphasized to enhance the spatial audio/computing experience.”

It’s not precisely clear why existing AirPods Pro models, which already offer head tracked Spatial Audio through motion sensors, cannot accomplish this goal. However, the blog post goes also says the camera could be used to detect gestures too.

He goes on to say that the IR camera will be able to detect changes in the environment “potentially enabling in-air gesture control to enhance human-device interaction.”

Kuo said to expect the product to arrive around 2026. However, it’s possible we’ll get a true third-generation AirPods Pro model well before then.

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