Bose Augments Aural Reality

Bose is getting into augmented reality (AR) — with a twist: Its new AR platform will specialize in delivering audio.

“Rather than superimposing visual objects on the real world,” the company says, “Bose AR adds an audible layer of information and experiences,” using a “wafer-thin acoustics package...with jaw-dropping power and clarity.”

Applications might include travel guides associated with landmarks, translation of signs, and information about things you see or places you visit. In everyday use, Bose’s audio AR can add useful information based on where you look — triggering a weather forecast when you look up or a list of restaurants recommended by TripAdvisor or Yelp when you look down the street.

When playing music, Bose VR lets you control playlists via voice or touch, and navigate among tracks with head-nod gestures for yes, no, or next.

“Bose AR represents a new kind of augmented reality — one that’s made for anyone and every day,” said John Gordon, vice president of Bose’s Consumer Electronics Division. “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.”

No word on when Bose AR-equipped glasses will be available but the company is investing $50 million in startups developing apps, services, or technologies for the platform.