Bose Abandons ‘Frames’ Augmented Reality Project
Another AR project goes up the flames.
The Bose Frames glasses were launched to establish sound-based Augmented Reality using sound-AR glasses. The project has now been abandoned but the immersive sound experiment failed.
Bose has now abandoned the immersive sound project just two years after it was launched at the SXSW. According to an initial report by Protocol, the staff that worked on the ‘Frames’ project were either laid off or have left. Bose partners in the project were also informed that their apps would not work in the coming weeks. Bose also removed mentions of AR on its website and closed its public AR SDK in April this year. Bose SVP John Gordon who was the main proponent of Augmented Reality at the company left the company last summer.
A Bose spokesperson told Protocol that the project did not pan out as the company had envisioned and as a result, the technology cannot be commercialized as the company had planned. However, Bose plans to use the components of the project to help Bose owners “in a different way”.
The Bose ‘Frames’ Augmented Reality project was focused more on the sound than on the visual immersive experience. Bose had put forth a $50 million fund for its AR developers. The company had at first collaborated with 11 software partners that included TripAdvisor and Yelp.
The Bose Frames sunglasses were launched in January 2019 and were priced at just $199. They glasses played audio from their arms. Buyers of the Bose Frames sunglasses were provided with audio sunglasses that whisper location-based information to the wearer via speakers that are embedded in the bracket. The Bose Frames glasses are also integrated with motion sensors that combine with the GPS data of the smartphone. The glasses are controlled via a microphone and an embedded button. The glasses also feature an app functionality.
The AR feature leverages the smartphone’s GPS along with the motion sensors to figure out where the wearer is looking and standing. The idea behind the Bose Frames is that they could offer the wearer information on whatever they are looking at.
For example, if a user is looking at a restaurant, a voice in the glasses can read the current reviews of the restaurant from the Google Maps. This audio works best for the larger buildings and sights like a river or churches. The GPS tracking for the Frames is still not accurate enough for smaller objects.
Bose invested $50 million in the audio AR project which should have ushered in the “the future of mobile sounds”. This is not the first time that an experimental prototype has flopped after failing to get the expected market buy-in. The technology developed for the project could be put into other purposes. The Bose AR apps will stop working within the next 30 days.
For now, it still isn’t clear how the Bose’s AR work on the Frames project could be implemented in future projects or whether the Frames sunglasses are likely to hold up.
Bose has had a difficult year. The company announced that it is closing all of its 119 physical retail stores located in North America, Europe, Japan and Australia which resulted in hundreds of job losses.
But Bose’s AR story is hardly unique in the AR industry. Magic Leap has laid off approximately 1,000 employees and the AR startup’s CEO recently stepped down. Early this year, Magic Leap also quit the consumer hardware space. In the past two years, two augmented reality companies, ODG and Daqri, also shut down.