When we say Bose, we automatically think high definition audio equipment. But at the SXSW conference, the company presented an innovative concept: an audio augmented reality platform and a prototype of AR smart glasses.
See and Hear with Bose Augmented Reality Glasses
The concept sounds incredible (pun intended): augmented reality smart glasses that allow users to listen to music. The glasses run, of course, on Bose AR, the company’s audio augmented reality platform.
It may be the next step forward after major smartphone manufacturers ditched the 3.5 mm audio jack in favor of Bluetooth earbuds. Mobile audio is still a battlefield between new technologies and traditionalists. Bose’s decision to join in this battle will have a strong psychological impact: a traditional brand embracing new technologies and creating a product that satisfies both sides.
How Does Bose’s Audio Augmented Reality Platform Work?
The principle behind the technology presented by Bose at SXSW is to eliminate visual disruption. Instead of seeing images superimposed over the real life landscape, wearers of Bose augmented reality goggles will hear useful information, such as travel opportunities, nearby businesses, places of entertainment, etc.
“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… 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,” explained John Gordon, the vice-president of the Consumer Electronics Division of Bose.
The audio augmented reality platform works with an extremely thin acoustics package, which can be seamlessly integrated into various devices, without negatively impacting their basic functionality. Thus, Bose AR can be soon used not just on augmented reality goggles, but also on smartphones, smartwatches, helmets, etc.
Freedom of Movement and Interaction
The technology developed by Bose allows users to control the audio content they access through the augmented reality platform through natural gestures like head movements, a tap on the wearable device, or even by voice.
This will definitely improve the way people use augmented reality, not just for entertainment, but also for practical purposes such as finding a good restaurant or getting directions to a meeting place.
The prototype AR glasses presented by Bose at SXSW feature a microphone enabling telephone calls, and are compatible with Bluetooth technology and with the voice assistants Siri and Google Assistant. The very discreet audio package is embedded in each arm of the glasses, creating the same high quality sound of Bose headphones. What is more, the sound is only audible to the wearer—an important advantage for people who value their privacy.
Practical Applications of the Audio Augmented Reality Platform
While the primary purpose of merging augmented reality with sound seems to be to allow people the freedom to explore the world without visual distractions while accessing AR content, the possibilities are endless.
AR goggles connected to the Bose audio augmented reality platform could soon become a must-have accessory for tourists, as much as the camera. Instead of looking at maps and relying on locals (who may not speak any other language but their own), tourists can get helpful guidance and information in their native language.
In the classroom, this type of augmented reality technology can create a disruption-free learning environment, where students can follow instructions without having to look away from a science project or a visual history presentation.
These are not mere speculations. Bose is already talking with various eligible collaborators and developers about including its proprietary audio augmented reality platform in other technologies. Some of the names Bose is already in talks with are TripAdvisor, ASICS, Yelp, TuneIn, and Audio Strava.
Bose AR SDK
The company will launch its SDK this summer, along with a limited number of improved AR glasses. Developers will thus be able to test their apps and content developed for the Bose augmented reality platform. Further information shall be available to interested developers by subscribing for updates at this link.