Bose has officially announced a consumer release of Frames, its augmented reality sunglasses that use sound instead of sight to relay information. At launch, the glasses will mainly be focussed on using a built-in microphone and open-ear headphones to interact with Siri and Google Assistant. Next year, however, Bose hopes to launch its own augmented reality platform for apps after shipping 10,000 pairs of the glasses to AR developers in 2018.
We had a chance to try out a couple of example apps earlier this year when Bose first announced the glasses. When paired to our phone, the glasses were able to understand our location using GPS and our direction using its own built-in nine-axis motion sensor. Using these data points in conjunction with voice commands and a single multifunction button, the glasses could then offer information about whatever we were looking at via the speakers in each of the sunglasses’ arms. It wasn’t as accurate as AR glasses that overlay a digital display onto the real world, but the audio approach was surprisingly effective.
With its open-ear design, privacy is going to be a key concern with the Frames. Interacting with a voice assistant using a pair of closed-back headphones like the Sony 1000X-M3 is one thing, but the Bose Frames are much closer in design to a pair of speakers that you wear on your face than traditional headphones. During our time with them in March, they did a decent job of isolating noise from the outside world, but we’d still think twice before asking for any especially private information.
Bose plans to ship two models of the sunglasses — one with round frames and one with square frames — and both will feature tinted UV-blocking glass. Importantly, considering the amount of tech that’s packed into these glasses, they weigh just 45 grams. That’s a little more than the 30 to 35 grams that a typical pair of Ray-Bans weighs, but that weight includes a battery that Bose promises will get you about three and a half hours of music playback and 12 hours of standby.
The glasses are available to preorder now for $199, with an expected ship date of January 2019. More information on Bose’s AR platform is expected to come at SXSW 2019, which is due to take place at the beginning of March.