Bose Introduces Audio Augmented Reality Platform at SXSW 2018

March 9 2018, 04:00
At SXSW 2018, Bose has introduced Bose AR, the company's concept for an audio augmented reality platform, in the shape of glasses to hear. According to Bose, the prototype "launches the future of mobile sound," and Bose also announced an SDK schedule date for developers, manufacturers, and research institutions, along with collaborations currently under way, and venture funding for related start-ups.

"Unlike other augmented reality products and platforms, Bose AR doesn't change what you see, but knows what you're looking at — without an integrated lens or phone camera. And rather than superimposing visual objects on the real world, Bose AR adds an audible layer of information and experiences, making every day better, easier, more meaningful, and more productive," the company explains.

Bose AR debuts a minuscule, wafer-thin acoustics package developed specifically for the platform, which Bose says represents "the future of mobile micro-sound with jaw-dropping power and clarity." The system 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.

"Bose AR represents a new kind of augmented reality — one that's made for anyone and every day," says 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. 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."

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 headphones — delivering audio that only the wearer can hear.

According also to Bose, the Bose AR platform is 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.

As applications examples, Bose details the use of Bose AR for travelers, transforming sightseeing into sighthearing, like simulating historic events at landmarks, letting users listen to a renowned speech "pinned" precisely to a famous monument, or explaining the story behind a painting in a museum. Other uses could include telling the user which way to turn towards a departure gate while checking in at the airport. Or suggesting translations for a sign in another language.

The Bose AR platform has already been made available to approved developers and manufacturers. The Massachusetts-based company details collaborations underway with ASICS Studio, Strava, TripAdvisor, TuneIn, and Yelp, apart from ongoing projects with academic research institutions, including the MIT Media Lab to advance human interaction related to augmented audio reality, and the NYU Future Reality Lab. Additional agreements have non-disclosure terms and will be announced in the future.

In the announcement, Bose says it will invest up to $50 million in start-ups focused on apps, services, or technologies for the Bose AR platform. More information can be found on the Bose Ventures site at  

The Bose AR SDK, and limited quantities of a refined and updated version of the Bose AR glasses, will be available during summer 2018.
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