Audio giant Bose is wooing startups with a $50m investment fund

Audio tech company Bose has announced a new AR system – and set aside $50m to invest in startups that can help develop it.

Called ‘Bose AR’, the platform works a little differently most industry services, focusing on the intersection between sound and vision. 

The hefty fund will target companies that can create apps, services and related technologies for the Bose AR platform.

Bose’s current prototype features smart sunglasses, which capture what the wearer sees and plays out relevant audio information through an embedded speaker.

The glasses have inbuilt motion sensors, which track the orientation of the listener using bluetooth to connect with a phone’s GPS data. As well as knowing where the user is, the nine-axis sensor can determine which direction they’re looking and moving.

App developers are also able to tag locations to trigger specific audio cues, or can just use the motion sensors as a head-based gesture control interface. For example, if you look up at a specific building and tap your  touchpad on your temple, they would offer a sentence or two about what’s inside.

In a statement, John Gordon, vice president of the Consumer Electronics Division at Bose, spoke about the technology: “It places audio in your surroundings, not digital images, so you can focus on the amazing world around you — rather than a tiny display

“It can be added to products and apps we already use and love, removing some of the big obstacles that have kept AR on the sidelines,” he added.

Bose has already partnered with 11 developers, including Yelp, TripAdvisor, TuneIn and Strava. MIT’s Media Lab and the NYU Future Reality Lab are also looking into prototypes. Category business manager Santiago Carvajal told The Verge that the company was “in conversations with a number of wearable hardware manufacturers in the eyewear space”.

The AR kit isn’t just limited to glasses, either. The company hope the technology can be integrated in  headphones, helmets and other wearables. The company said the new technology can be controlled with voice commands, head gestures, and simple touch gestures.

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