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Bose Unveils Augmented Reality Smart Glasses That Prioritize Audio Over Visuals

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Instead of following Google's and Magic Leap's footsteps, Bose decided some time during the development of its smart glasses that it's going to take augmented reality into a different direction.

Since Bose is primarily an audio company, why not make that the focus of its new hardware? As it turns out, that's exactly what it did. Whoever claimed that AR should be all about visuals, anyway? Bose is challenging that concept with its "smart headphones" in the form of glasses that feature no visual overlays at all. That means it doesn't display anything in your eyes whatsoever and instead depends on immersive audio experiences to earn its AR label.

Bose Does Away With Visual Overlays

Visual overlays can be distracting and potentially life-threatening, and sometimes all a user needs is for pertinent information to be whispered into their ear. That's exactly what Bose's smart glasses are offering. It determines the wearer's GPS via a paired smartphone and provides more information about what they're currently looking at. At least that's how they're supposed to work in theory.

Say, for instance, the wearer is inside a museum, as Stuff points out. The smart glasses can apparently tell them about the work of art they're looking at. Instead of being distracted by extra overlay information, the wearer can continue appreciating the art as they listen to its historical background. This is possible because of a nine-axis IMU sensor onboard that knows where the wearer is looking at.

How It Works

During a demo of the glasses at the SXSW event, Engadget said its accuracy was "impressive," offering information upon double-tapping the side of the glasses. Of course, how accurate they are in real-world situations remains to be determined, but the important thing is how the technology is implemented — and it works well, according to Engadget.

Suffice it to say that Bose didn't actually create anything new or groundbreaking here, but by making audio the focus of its unique augmented reality glasses, it was able to create an experience uncluttered by unnecessary visual overlays and a level of immersion that's ordinary in a way that doesn't push past being too gimmicky.

Suppose they work well, Bose's smart glasses might be on to something. Thus far, it has proven that AR isn't always about fancy and sophisticated graphics — it can be something as simple as an assistant whispering to the wearer about whether they should turn left, if the restaurant they're looking at is any good, or where the airport is. It's so simple it's actually genius.

Now, the challenge for Bose is to translate a concept that makes sense into one that actually works.

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