Bose Announces Augmented Reality Sunglasses at SXSW

Most of us know Bose as the company that brings us great sound. The company is now entering the AR space. At this year’s SXSW festival, Bose launched a project it’s calling “Bose AR” and it showed off a pair of prototype glasses that demonstrate what sound-based AR might look and feel like. The company plans to ship 10,000 of these glasses to developers and manufacturers this summer, with the intent of partnering with other eyewear companies.

The Bose AR prototype does not come with an integrated camera, but rather features wafer-thin acoustics package that can be built into headphones, eyewear, helmets among other things.

Bose says its AR glasses use onboard motion sensors that can detect precisely which direction you’re facing, working with GPS coordinates from a paired smartphone to essentially “see” where the glasses are facing. The AR glasses are also able to recognize head-based gestures. For example, if you got an incoming call, you can nod your head to answer or shake it to reject the call.

The company has established a $50 million fund for Bose AR developers, and it lists 11 software partners already, including Yelp, TripAdvisor, and fitness company Strava. Bose category business manager Santiago Carvajal mentioned companies like Ray-Ban and Warby Parker as potential hardware partners but says nobody is locked down yet. “We are in conversations with a number of wearable hardware manufacturers in the eyewear space,” he says. The price is still undetermined, and will obviously vary depending on who’s making the glasses.

Bose suggested a few possible use cases that developers and startups could build applications to support:

FOR TRAVEL Bose AR can make every trip easier and more meaningful, transforming sightseeing in to sighthearing. Like simulating historic events at landmarks as you view them— so voices and horses are heard charging in from your left, then passing right in front of you before riding off in the direction of their original route, fading as they go. Or letting you listen to a renowned speech “pinned” precisely to the famous person in a monument’s statue. Or telling you which way to turn towards your departure gate while checking in at the airport.

FOR LEARNING Bose AR can make the world a classroom. Like translating the sign you’re reading. Or telling you the word or phrase for what you’re looking at in any language. Or explaining the story behind the painting you’ve just approached.

FOR MUSIC Bose AR can put playlists right in front of you, so you can control them with gestures as easily as voice or touch. With your wearable on, you can choose or change your music with simple head nods indicating yes, no, or next.

Source: The Verge, Biz Journal