Future AirPods may have ambient light sensors for heart rate monitoring and other health conditionsApple's AirPods 3 could use an embedded light sensor to monitor your health, making it a potential alternative to Apple Watch for the company itself.

Industry sources apparently told DigiTimes that ambient light sensors (ALS) would be coming to next-generation AirPods in one to two years. And the sensors would enable the wireless headphones to monitor heart rates and health conditions, which would help supplement other health and fitness-related data like step counts.

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ALS has the ability to detect heart rates by emitting an infrared scan on the skin and monitoring the change in light bounced off blood cells. A heart rate can be measured by detecting changes in the volume of the blood vessels as blood cells flow through them, and certain health problems can be extrapolated when combined with additional data.

As it stands, the AirPods 3 is forecast to arrive in the second half of 2021, at least according to Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple oracle and analyst. We had thought that in the second half of this year the AirPods 3 would arrive, at the same time as the launch of an iPhone 12, but that doesn't look very probable.

So if the sources of DigiTimes are correct, then the timeframe for adding ALS to future AirPods fits the AirPods 3 release window as well. So we could see the AirPods 3 coming in with new health and fitness-oriented features that would help them take on impressive rivals like the Google Pixel Buds 2 and Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus better.

AirPods Studio is likely the next set of headphones expected to come out of Cupertino. Apparently, mass production of these over-ear headphones is underway, with headphones expected to arrive in time next month for the all-digital WWDC 2020 event in Apple.