Apple AirPods could be getting a thermal vision upgrade in 2026, said analysts

Apple’s new AirPods could have a thermal camera to enhance spatial audio experience.

By 2026, Apple AirPods might have a built-in IR camera, analyst for TF International Securities, Ming-Chi Kuo reports.

An IR camera, or infrared camera, also known as a thermal camera, detects infrared radiation, which can then be converted into an image.

The camera would be similar to the iPhone’s Face ID receiver, Kuo said.

Such IR cameras may be supplied by Foxconn, the largest electronics manufacturer in the world. It’s reported that the plan is to make 10 million AirPods. But more accurate numbers will be dictated by “market conditions.”

The upgraded AirPods would be used with current and future Apple Vision Pro headsets “to enhance the user experience of spatial audio and strengthen the spatial computing ecosystem.”

The combination of these two devices would be convenient for users who move around, as the sound would also be “emphasized” in that direction, creating a spatial audio environment.

Apple has been issuing a number of patents, one of which concerns air gesturing for other devices, not just the headset. An IR camera that can detect environmental changes could help enable such contact between a user and a device.