Bose Frames, the sunglasses for audio augmented reality

With the use of a sensor, they detect the position of the face, while the speakers in the sides transmit sound to the ear without the need for headphones or earphones.

Augmented reality is not just about screens and helmets. It is also sound. At least, this is the vision of the audio brand Bose, who have unveiled Frames, truly original “augmented” sunglasses. On first sight, they are just normal sunglasses in black celluloid. There are two versions, offering either squared (Alto) or round (Rondo) lenses. The only sign of something different is in the slightly larger sides, and in fact the innovation lies right there. A microphone allows interaction with voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant, while answers are received via micro-speakers which are aimed directly at the ears. It is a little like wearing speakers on your face, and in this way, there is no need for headphones or earphones. Furthermore, Frames have a button on the right temple which allows for manual control. Just one touch to turn them on and connect to your smartphone, to activate the voice assistant, to answer a call, pause music or change track.

However, the most interesting and technological aspect regards augmented reality. In contrast to hi-tech glasses that we have seen up to now, Frames do not have a built-in camera, nor do they project images on the lens. They only use sound. Thanks to a nine-axis sensor, they know what we are looking at, and where our head is facing. They then use the smartphone GPS and a dedicated app to add “layers” of sound to reality. We can imagine looking at a monument and receiving an explanation of what we are seeing, or getting a guided tour in a museum which only tells us about what we are interested in, or even a shop which sends us its advertising only when we stop to look at the window display.

The applications for this new technology are as limitless as possible doubts regarding privacy. As they have an “open” design, the sound they transmit may also be heard by those near to us. In any case, there is time to understand their potential and allay doubts. Frames will be available on the USA market from next January, to then be launched worldwide in the spring. For now, they can be pre-ordered at a cost of $199.95, approximately €175.00.

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