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Are Bose Framing A New Debate Around Smart Glasses?

Tech company Bose are well known around the world for their headphones, speakers and home sound systems. So when the company announced at CES 2018 that they were getting into the smart glasses market, most of us were pretty shocked. They do audio… right? So what do they know about the smart glasses market? Well, more than we thought. First off, the new Bose Frames are sunglasses that actually look good. They also have built-in wireless audio but the killer feature is the first audio-led augmented reality.

A corner view of the new Bose AR Frames showing the dark shades of the glass and the bulk of the earpiece on the arm of the frames.

Sunglasses

Bose Frames will come in two styles — square and angled, or round and slightly smaller. Both claim to block up to 99% of UVA/UVB rays, and feature uniformly tinted lenses and distinct accents — including gold-plated steel hinges and charging pins. They’re scratch and shatter resistant, and weigh a mere 45 grams — standard for the category of sunglasses – despite the additional tech built in.

Personal Audio

Bose Frames will function like truly wireless headphones — with a miniscule speaker set seamlessly in each arm’s interior — rather than an earbud, or attached component. Bose say this will produce “discreet, jaw-dropping sound for the user, and no one else”. For touch and voice control, an ultra-small microphone and multi-function button are embedded on the right temple for power and pairing, Siri and Google Assistant, calls and commands, or to pause and skip songs. The Bose Connect app provides additional features now, and software updates for new features in the future — like Bose AR.

Augmented Reality

Ah yes, the audio-led augmented reality. So what does this mean? Well, unlike other augmented reality glasses and platforms around at the moment, Bose AR doesn’t change what you see, or use a lens or phone camera to superimpose objects in your sightline. Instead, it knows where you are and what you’re facing using a 9-axis head motion sensor and the GPS from your iOS or Android device — and automatically adds a layer of audio, connecting that place and time to endless possibilities for travel, learning, entertainment, gaming, and more. It’s all accessible through the ease of listening — clear-eyed, heads-up, hands-free.

A Blind View

It’s not surprising that this technology is of interest to the blind community. The idea that you can look at a building and your glasses will audibly report on what you are looking at could be life-changing. Perhaps not a new form of mobility aid on its own, but accompanied by say, BlindSquare or Soundscape and a trusty white cane or guide dog, getting around and being more independent could get easier.

Listen to Tim Schwartz’s view on Bose AR Frames as he discussed them on Double Tap Canada episode 67.

Availability

Bose AR Frames have already launched in the US, with select resellers and global markets following in Spring 2019. An update on Bose AR, the industry’s first audio augmented reality platform, will be shared at SXSW 2019.

What do you think? Drop us a comment below to join the conversation.

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