Bose has introduced augmented reality glasses with sound control

Bose has introduced augmented reality glasses with sound control

Photo: CNET

Augmented reality is usually associated exclusively with visual perception, but it turns out this is not always the case. At the SXSW media Festival taking place in the United States, the Bose audio company announced the launch of a project called Bose AR. She presented a prototype of glasses that demonstrate how augmented reality technology can look and work based on sound. The company plans to soon send 10,000 copies of glasses to developers and manufacturers in order to conclude a partnership for the production of the device.

The Bose AR device collects data from the built-in GPS motion sensors from your smartphone, with which they connect via Bluetooth. GPS detects where the user is, and the nine-axis sensor can determine in which direction he is looking and moving. Opposite the ears is a miniature speaker. This makes it possible to perfectly hear the sound, at the same time, hiding it from others. App developers can mark locations to trigger certain audio signals on certain geo-tags, or they can simply use motion sensors to control.

Bose has created a $50 million fund for developers based on the Bose AR platform, and it already lists 11 software partners, including Yelp, TripAdvisor and the fitness company Strava. Bose category manager Santiago Carvajal mentioned such companies as Ray-Ban and Warby Parker as potential partners, and this list is still open to new companies. Carvajal said:

We are negotiating with a number of equipment manufacturers who could produce glasses with the new technology.

The cost of the device has not yet been determined, and, obviously, will depend on the manufacturer.

Photo: CNETPhoto: CNET
Photo: CNETPhoto: CNET

The company plans to introduce Bose AR in as many devices as possible. On their exhibition shelf, examples of possible future products are presented: bicycle helmets , corrective glasses, micro-headphones. At SXSW, two working versions of the product were presented: sunglasses printed on a 3D printer, and a modified version of the QuietComfort30 headphones under the working name QC3X. The charge in the glasses lasts for three to four hours, but Bose plans to increase it to eight hours in the final commercial version.

Carvajal said that Bose is interested in the production of glasses, because they are more comfortable and socially acceptable for permanent wear. At the same time, it is not visible from the outside that you are busy with something. Carvajal said:

The majority of the population has been wearing glasses for many years, and they are positively perceived by others.

Although most often augmented reality glasses are considered quite inconvenient and are not always easily accepted by society. Most recently, Intel announced natural smart glasses. Bose AR can go even further, because their technology does not imply any image projection. The prototype of augmented reality sunglasses at first glance seems quite ordinary. The glasses are thickened in the side arches due to the built-in speakers, motion sensors and a touch panel. But nevertheless, they are still relatively light.

Bose presented several simple applications at SXSW that work almost perfectly. The most impressive demonstration was an excursion on one of the streets. It was augmented reality, controlled by voice instead of head movements — you look at the building and press the touch panel on the shackle, and you are given a brief information about what is inside. The locations did not always exactly coincide, and sometimes the information was voiced not for the object on which the eye was focused, but for the one at the edge of the view. But nevertheless, the tour was impressive. The illusion was created that someone was walking next to you and telling you about the sights.

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It is still unclear how accurately the developers will be able to track the position of the view. Carvajal said that Bose AR will probably be able to identify the statue in the park, but it is unlikely that it will be able to accurately position a small sign on the wall. This is not as ambitious as augmented reality projects based on a smartphone and glasses, which very accurately “attach” virtual objects to specific places. Bose AR will be difficult to implement such accuracy without a camera.

An interesting solution was the localization for QC3X headphones. They offered phrases in French or Spanish. The built-in voice recognition supports voice commands and allows you to get feedback.

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Another relevant use case is choosing between several playlists by turning your head as if they are physical objects. The sound faded or became louder depending on the direction of the gaze. When moving from “work” to “gym”, the device will offer to change the playlist and automatically adjust the sound parameters, for example, noise reduction. But such functionality is already implemented in Bragi headphones based on gesture control, and Bose AR could offer more interesting options.

The usefulness and applicability of Bose AR technology will depend on what the developers will eventually offer, and how acceptable conversations with yourself will be. After all, holograms seem to be more high-tech. The cost of the equipment will also matter. The company could probably add display support as well. But at the moment, it turned out to be very decent augmented reality glasses that do not look funny. And in itself — this is already a rare achievement.

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