Bose is dabbling in ‘audio AR’ with a pair of sunglasses

Back in March we first caught wind that Bose is dabbling in augmented reality, with the launch of a new wearable SDK. Seems the headphone maker is ready to bring that technology to market, launching its first headset next month. Don’t let the AR name fool you. Frames are actually “audio augmented reality,” as one […]

Back in March we first caught wind that Bose is dabbling in augmented reality, with the launch of a new wearable SDK. Seems the headphone maker is ready to bring that technology to market, launching its first headset next month.

Don’t let the AR name fool you. Frames are actually “audio augmented reality,” as one would expect from Bose. That means, in spite of offering the sunglasses form factor, there’s no head’s up display on board here. The aim instead is to offer a more immersive audio experience.

The hardware detects where you are and which direction you’re facing via a nine-axis head motion sensor and the GPS on a tethered Android or iOS devices. The audio pumped through the on-board headphones changes accordingly.

The glasses feature small speaker grilles, rather than earbuds or bone conduction, meaning you’ll still pick up ambient sound. That’s both a positive and a negative. You won’t be getting the same full audio you’d get on a pair of devoted headphones, but you’re also likely to be more aware of your surroundings.

No actual content has been announced here — that’s going to start arriving at some point next year — though the company mentions applications like gaming, learning and travel (think audio-based tour guides for starters) as possibilities. Assuming, of course, you’re in a spot where wearing a pair of sunglasses makes sense.

The headset will run $199. Not cheap for an unproven technology, but giving the price of many Bose products, you’re actually getting off pretty easy here. The on-board battery should last around 3.5 hours on a charge, with 12 hours of standby time.

The Frames will be available in two styles when they hit U.S. stores in January. They’ll arrive in other markets in the spring.

Bose hearing aid gets FDA approval

For the 37.5 million adults who have trouble hearing without a hearing aid, Bose has a new product for you. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved audio technology company Bose to market a new hearing aid device. Dubbed the Bose Hearing Aid, it’s designed to let people with audio impairments fit, program and control the […]

For the 37.5 million adults who have trouble hearing without a hearing aid, Bose has a new product for you. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved audio technology company Bose to market a new hearing aid device.

Dubbed the Bose Hearing Aid, it’s designed to let people with audio impairments fit, program and control the hearing aid without the help or assistance of a healthcare provider. The hearing aid uses air conduction to capture sound vibrations through the microphone. From there, the device processes the signal, amplifies it and then plays it back through an earphone inside the ear canal. Through a mobile app, people can adjust the hearing aid.

“Hearing loss is a significant public health issue, especially as individuals age,” Malvina Eydelman, M.D., director of the Division of Ophthalmic, and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a press release. “Today’s marketing authorization provides certain patients with access to a new hearing aid that provides them with direct control over the fit and functionality of the device. The FDA is committed to ensuring that individuals with hearing loss have options for taking an active role in their health care.”

Before approving the device for marketing, the FDA says it reviewed data from clinical trials of 125 patients. Those studies showed comparable results to those with professionally fitted devices.

“In addition, when participants self-fit the Bose Hearing Aid, they generally preferred those hearing aid settings over the professionally-selected setting,” the FDA wrote in a blog post.

Bose is not the first company to try this. The now-defunct startup Doppler Labs developed earbuds with active listening, enabling people to augment the way they heard the world. There’s also Nuheara, which unveiled earbuds earlier this year that are designed to boost hearing. What makes Bose’s different, however, is the FDA approval.

Bose went through the FDA’s De Novo premarket review process, which is a regulatory pathway for low to moderate-risk devices that are especially novel, and not already available. As the FDA mentioned, this is the first hearing aid authorized for marketing that enables people to fit and program their own hearing aids. Still, depending on state laws, people may be required to purchase the device through a licensed hearing aid dispenser.

It’s not clear what this device looks like, or if the Bose Hearphones — currently marketed as a “conversation-enhancing” headphone — will simply be remarketed as a hearing aid. I’ve reached out to Bose and will update this story if I hear back.

Bose takes on the HomePod with a $400 Alexa smart speaker

The latest Echo devices are a touch more premium than their predecessors, but Amazon hasn’t gone out of its way to compete with Apple’s HomePod head-on. And why bother, really, when hardware partners are willing to do the heavy lifting? Bose is certainly making a compelling case with the Home Speaker 500. The compact smart […]

The latest Echo devices are a touch more premium than their predecessors, but Amazon hasn’t gone out of its way to compete with Apple’s HomePod head-on. And why bother, really, when hardware partners are willing to do the heavy lifting?

Bose is certainly making a compelling case with the Home Speaker 500. The compact smart speaker finds the audio company going all in on the smart assistant market, along with a pair of new soundbars that also sport Alexa functionality.

The company has cautiously embraced Amazon’s smart assistant in recent years, but the trio of new products are the first Bose speakers to feature Alexa built-in, rather than relying on a skill. The Home Speaker is a fairly compact device, measuring 8 x 6 x 4 inches, with two custom drivers built-in, designed to reflect sound off of walls. The looks are a little lacking, but the sound is really what counts. 

There are eight microphones on board that support Amazon’s far-field tech, which means it should play nicely with other Echo devices. Those mics, along with the ones of the soundbars, are built from the same tech found on the company’s headsets.

The smart speaker runs $400, and the soundbars are $550 and $800. All will hit the market in October. Support for other smart assistants is forthcoming (including, one assumes, Google Assistant), with AirPlay 2 functionality arriving early next year.