Of all the things we saw at this year’s SXSW show, Bose’s AR sunglasses were by far the most impressive – and Bose has finally announced when we can strap a pair to our face.
The glasses, which use audio instead of visuals, will be available January for $199, with pre-orders starting right now. Bose has also given its wearable a name: Bose Frames.
The glasses use open-ear headphones and a mic to let you communicate with Alexa and Google Assistant on the go. The glasses don’t isolate noise, but we found the sound quality surprisingly clear and rich in our short demo.
While some other AR audio glasses are going down the route of bone conduction technology, Bose is leveraging its expertise into “tiny sound generating acoustics package”, as the company’s Consumer Electronics Division VP, John Gordon, described it to me back in March. Sound plays out of a small speaker above each ear, but without drowning out the world around you.
But Bose’s plans are much more ambitious than simply finding a new way to put Alexa and Google Assistant in your ear. The company is trying to build an AR platform, and it says Bose AR apps are coming next year too.
When I tried them at SXSW I was led through the streets of Austin as the glasses (combining nine-axis motion sensor data with GPS information fed from the paired phone) relayed information about stores and other locations I was looking at. So the same sort of info you’d get from a visual overlay, but in a more technologically feasible and stylish way. Oh, and you can listen to music on them too, but expect some sound leak.
Speaking of style, the glasses come in two designs – square and round – and certainly don’t give much of their secrets away at first blush. They look like a regular pair of sunglasses, weighing just 45 grams, with UV-blocking, scratch resistant glass.
As for battery, Bose promises three and a half hours of playback and up to 12 hours on standby, with a full recharge taking “less than two hours”.
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