At SXSW, Bose introduced Bose AR, a very different take on what we understand Augmented Reality to be. Instead of augmenting what you see, Bose is plannning to augmented what you hear, instead of overlaying visuals in front of your eyes. Currently in the prototype stage, the glasses would feature sensors to understand the world around you, but give an uninterrupted view of the world, while providing you an improved experience by giving you audio information.
Bose say their audible layer of information and experiences, making every day better, easier, more meaningful, and more productive. The system works by a miniscule, wafer-thin acoustics package, representing the future of mobile micro-sound with power and clarity. It can be seamlessly built into headphones, eyewear, helmets and more, with no compromise to their existing functionality. And it allows simple head gestures, voice, or a tap on the wearable to control content— replacing the need to swipe, type, or tap a touchscreen for the same commands.
VP of the Consumer Electronics Division at Bose, John Gordon said,
“Bose AR represents a new kind of augmented reality— one that’s made for anyone and every day. It places audio in your surroundings, not digital images, so you can focus on the amazing world around you— rather than a tiny display.
It knows which way you’re facing, and can instantly connect that place and time with endless possibilities for travel, learning, music and more. And it can be added to products and apps we already use and love, removing some of the big obstacles that have kept AR on the sidelines.”
BOSE Prototype glasses
The first Bose AR wearable (a prototype pair of glasses) was engineered and manufactured by Bose. They’re Bluetooth compatible with microphones for calls, Siri or Google Assistant. And they debut a new proprietary technology that keeps audio private. With an ultra-slim, ultra-light, ultra-miniaturized acoustic package embedded discreetly in each arm, they can fit, function and look like standard eyewear, but sound and function more like Bose headphones— delivering amazing, lifelike performance that no one can hear but you.
The BOSE AR platform
The Bose AR platform is purposely straightforward, focused on improving daily life instead of extremes. In addition to delivering stunning audio quality for listening to music, talking on the phone, or using VPAs, a Bose AR wearable uses sensors to track head motion, and the GPS from an iOS or Android device to track location. The sensors send the motion and location data to a Bose AR-enabled app that aggregates the information, sending relevant, real-time content back to the user’s ears instantly. It’s all done hands-free, heads-up, and wirelessly, so there’s no need to grab, read or touch the phone. And it can be used for multiple applications.
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.
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.
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.
Bose AR doesn’t interfere with a wearable’s primary purpose— it adds useful information based on where you look. Like the forecast when you look up, or the restaurants on the street you look down.
The Bose AR platform is open to approved developers and manufacturers. Collaborations under way include ASICS Studio, Strava, TripAdvisor, TuneIn, and Yelp.
Bose is also collaborating with academic research institutions, including the MIT Media Lab to advance human interaction related to augmented audio reality, and the NYU Future Reality Lab.
Venture funding available
If you’re a start-up, and are already working on AR devices, you may want to have a chat to Bose as they’re invested up to $50 million in start-ups focused on apps, services, or technologies for the Bose AR platform.
This is a platform and therefore Bose have an AR SDK and limited quantities of a refined and updated version of the Bose AR glasses, (available this US summer ). Sign-up information and details can be found at Developer.Bose.com/Bose-AR.