Just a few weeks ago, Apple broke the internet by releasing the iPhone7.
Many of the iPhone’s updates were standard enough – a more powerful camera and an updated “home” button, to name a few. The biggest change, though, was the missing headphone jack, and the “AirPods” Apple introduced as a replacement to the EarPods the company is famous for.
Although the AirPods aren’t available to the public until late October, major outlets like TechCrunch have already tested them. So far, the AirPods, funny-looking Bluetooth headphones that resemble cigarette butts, have received mixed reviews about their quality and performance.
According to some experts, though, the significance of the AirPod goes far beyond wireless listening. Fast Company, for example, reported, “AirPods aren’t headphones, they’re Apple’s first implants.”
Regardless of how you feel about the AirPod, it’s obvious that they represent the next wave of technology that shines a light on the future of implant technology.
Implants and Body Hacking
“Body Hacking” is a term that’s running rampant in the tech world lately. The practice of experimenting with the introduction of implantable technology, body hacking seeks to improve and alter the human body. By augmenting humans with technology, body hackers aim to improve human functionality and quality of life simultaneously.
While the concept of body hacking sounds fringe to some people, many are willing and, in fact, eager to accept it. BodyHacking Con is scheduled for 2017, and The Washington Post is reporting that some body hackers have turned themselves into “cyborgs” by implanting small magnets, chips, and seismographs beneath their skin.
Given the massive global interest in body hacking, it’s no surprise that many regard Apple’s AirPods are the first tech implant successfully produced for the masses.
The AirPod: One Small Step for Apple, One Huge Step for Implantable Tech
Here’s the reason so many are calling AirPods implants: while the AirPods are not implanted in the body, they’re designed in such a way that there’s no reason for them ever to be removed.
Think of it this way: everyone has had the experience of ripping headphones out of our ears when the cord gets caught on something, or when a phone slips from a pocket. Most of us understand the unwritten convention that dictates we remove our headphones (even if we’re not listening to anything) when someone approaches us to speak.
Without the cord, though, those conventions and inconveniences disappear.
AirPods are tiny enough to virtually disappear in the human ear, they future a 24-hour battery life, they know when you’re talking (and they use an advanced set of beamforming microphones to silence background noise and “listen” to your voice), and you can communicate with them (by double-tapping either AirPod twice) without ever removing your iPhone from your pocket.
When an earphone functions like this, why would you ever remove it?
And maybe that’s exactly what Apple wants. While there’s no question that the primary purpose of the AirPod is to make listening to music, conducting phone calls, and asking for directions simpler than ever before, it’s also undeniable that one of the many functions of the AirPod is to act as a first step toward the removal of the boundary between human bodies and technology.
The Future of Implant Technology
While the AirPods are Apple’s coolest new device, they’re also a much more intimate item than Apple has ever offered before.
With the AirPods, people can be two places at once: walking down the street and talking to their OS (much like Joaquin Phoenix in the film Her), existing in the “real world,” yet participating in an entirely nondirectional way with technology.
Only the future will reveal the true trajectory of implant technology and body hacking, but many would argue that we’re already well on our way to a world where humans and computers blend seamlessly.
This partnership will serve to increase convenience, boost efficiency, and remove many of the obstacles of daily life, and it’s clear the Apple AirPods are some of the first widely accessible devices designed to provide those experiences for consumers.
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