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article imageBose reveals sound-based smart glasses in push into AR

By James Walker     Mar 15, 2018 in Technology
Audio brand Bose has announced it's entering the augmented reality market with its own set of smart glasses. The current prototype aims to evolve the role of audio in augmented reality, a technology which is currently dominated by visual experiences.
Bose AR was announced earlier this week at the SXSW festival. The company demonstrated a concept headset which uses data from motion sensors and GPS to provide enhanced directional audio in AR environments. The glasses are capable of detecting where the wearer is looking. This information is used by directional speakers to finetune the audio.
The system is based on a "wafer-thin" acoustics package specially developed by Bose. The platform aims to add "an audible layer" to augmented reality experiences, using sound to communicate new information. To date, most AR devices have focused on overlaying visual elements on the world, with sound relegated to a supporting role.
According to Bose, putting audio at the centre of the experience could create a more useful form of augmented reality. Rather than forcing you to look at details on a small heads-up display, you could connect with the world around you using sound. The platform includes proprietary technology that keeps all audio private, so people nearby won't hear the headset's sounds.
Bose AR prototype glasses
Bose AR prototype glasses
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"Bose AR represents a new kind of augmented reality— one that’s made for anyone and every day," said John Gordon, vice president of the Consumer Electronics Division at Bose. "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."
The current prototype wearable was designed and manufactured by Bose. While it's not necessarily representative of final Bose AR devices, it indicates the direction in which the company's taking the project. The glasses connect with smartphones over Bluetooth and include built-in integrations with Siri and Google Assistant. Information is delivered wirelessly and in a heads-up manner, without requiring any hand inputs.
Although it's still early days for Bose and the wider AR ecosystem, the company is making significant commitments to its fledgling platform. Bose has already established a $50 million fund to attract Bose AR developers. Despite not yet having consumer-ready hardware, it currently lists 11 software partners including TripAdvisor, TuneIn and Yelp. The company will provide a full SDK to let developers add Bose AR support to their existing apps and services.
Bose said it expects to release the SDK in the summer. Developers can express their interest now on the company's Bose AR developer portal. Bose will also ship limited quantities of a refined version of its prototype glasses later this year. This first-generation edition will be restricted to 10,000 units and aimed at developers and partners creating content for Bose AR.
More about Bose, augmented reality, AR, Devices, wearables
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