Despite an overwhelmingly positive reception from the visually impaired community, Bose AR Frames, the sunglasses with built-in Bluetooth speakers and head tracking sensors, face an uncertain future as Bose have announced that they are discontinuing all work on augmented reality audio.
Bose have already closed the software development kit, and say that all partner apps will lose support soon. This news of the closure makes the likelihood of any hardware updates or a ‘gen 2’ version of the Bose AR Frames look very doubtful, although at the time of writing, Bose have not made any official announcement on that.
With the popular mobility app SoundScape recently adding support for the Bose AR Frames, and Aira talking of adding support for a while, this new category of wearable tech obviously had the potential to be of great use to the visually impaired, at the very least, as a mobility aid.
As a result, this decision is very disappointing for many in our community.
Why We Shouldn’t Despair – by Steven Scott
As a long-time user of Bose AR Frames, I could count on one hand the amount of times that I have actually used the augmented reality feature. It sounds cool and a lot of fun, but truthfully the applications don’t yet exist to make this a functional part of our everyday lives.
However, while I don’t use or benefit from that function, the primary purpose of the Frames as a pair of Bluetooth headphones that I don’t have to put into my ear have helped me tremendously over the last year. Joining up my Bose AR Frames to my iPhone with a braille display in hand has become my go-to solution for everyday tasks such as emails, article writing and social media. Not having earphones pushed into my ear means I enjoy the open-audio environment without annoying others with my VoiceOver chatting away.
When I’m on the move, I am able to enjoy podcasts and audiobooks, again without the need for earphones. Trust me, when you have to wear earphones all day every day it becomes not only sore but also damaging to your ears.
I don’t listen to music on them as I don’t feel the audio quality is that good and as a bit of an audio purist I prefer over ear closed-back headphones to really enjoy the music properly.
In addition to all of this, the microphone that is built in to the device is truly amazing. Usually Bluetooth headsets are great to listen to calls but for the person on the other end it is a heavy mix of wind noise and poor audio quality. The Bose AR Frames have somehow got this right and the combination works extremely well.
The bottom line is that if you are blind and use a screen reader on your computer or phone most of the day, you would not go wrong with a pair of Bose Frames. Obviously, if you don’t normally wear glasses that might take a bit of getting used to, but as my eye condition means I really have to wear sunglasses all the time these are just perfect.
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I am an absolute geek who loves technology. I also happen to be severely sight impaired and that has meant my journey with new technology has been challenging. What I've learnt is what I want to share with others and I do that on air in the UK on RNIB Connect Radio's weekly Tech Talk radio show and podcast, and on AMI-Audio's Double Tap Canada radio show and podcast. I'm also a very lucky husband and the owner of the world's coolest dog!