Bose AR Glasses Alto and Rondo

The Bose name is synonymous with high-end mass-market audio products. The Framingham, Massachusetts based company is one of the market leaders in consumer-facing audio technology. They have a significant presence in the headphone, speaker and digital device markets. They are not, however, a name that comes to mind when most consumers think of augmented reality. Bose is hoping to change this perception with the release of their Bose Frames audio-based AR glasses

 Visual-based augmented reality devices utilize cameras to overlay digital widgets over a live view of the world- typically through smartphones and purpose-built augmented reality glasses like Microsoft’s Hololens or Google Glass. The Bose Frames work on a similar principle, combining data gleaned from motion sensors on the device with GPS positioning tech to create the illusion of an audio-based world combined with the real world.

 Bose Frames Specs 

The Bose Frames come in two different models, differentiated only by the style, size, and shape of the units- Bose Frames Alto (BMD0003) and Bose Frames Rondo (BMD0004). The underlying electronic components remain the same for each unit, and the differences are entirely cosmetic. 

 These glasses come equipped with GPS sensors that locate the user. The GPS works in conjunction with a 9-axis sensor that tells the unit in which direction they are viewing and moving towards. Speakers are built-in to the unit, on the sides of the frames where the lens meets the arms of the glasses. Both models come with built-in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and a magnetic docking/charging station.

 

 Traditional AR glasses use digital displays that are overlayed onto lenses or beamed directly into the user’s eyes. This need to process and display visual images often requires clunky hardware that makes the glasses easy to spot- this is not true with the Bose Frames. The speakers and related hardware are all built into the thick sides of the glasses, which gives them a natural look and weight.

When can we expect a consumer release?

These glasses received FCC approval on 2018-10-22 and the documents are set to become public by January 22nd so it is highly likely at least a developer edition will launch by then. [FCC ID A94429638]

How Are Bose Frames Used?

As with visual AR devices, the Bose Frames run different apps and have many exciting use cases. One example given by the company at SXSW, where the units debuted, was walking along a historic street on a guided audio tour. During the tour, users could tilt their view towards a historic building, business, or landmark and tap the button on the side of the glasses to access an audio description of that area. Essentially the glasses act as your own personal tour guide of downtown. The devices will feature native apps and apps by third-party developers, and the possibilities for use are as varied as those for traditional visual-based augmented reality systems. 

The Future of Audio Technology?

Bose is betting big that their foray into augmented-reality will pay dividends. While the Bose Frames are manufactured and sold by Bose, they are making an aggressive push to work with other companies to license their technology for use in other devices like virtual reality gaming headsets, visual-AR glasses and more.