Often times, when I see a truly amazing product at a tech convention, I worry if it will ever come to life, or if it's just vaporware.
Bose gets to chalk one up in the Win column today, as its team of audio experts is now taking pre-orders for Bose Frames, a pair of augmented reality-enhanced shades I saw last March at SXSW, starting at $199 at Bose.com (shipping in January).
To get you caught up, these frames look to replace headphones by taking the audio out of your ears and placing them within close proximity. Specifically, they use variable-length dipole technology to create a small, personal bubble of sound that is just for you to hear. While I had to cup my hands around my ears to hear their sound on the very-busy streets of Austin, TX, I could hear some decent sound quality during my time with the specs.
As for the AR powers of the Bose Frames, all I had to do was double-tap on the sides of the wearable to get tips about nearby restaurants (such as how one spot had great sausages). The technology for this trick isn't entirely in the Frames themselves, but by combining a 9-axis motion sensor in the Frames with the GPS in your connected iOS or Android device.
The Bose Frames are the first device to support Bose AR, the platform that the audio giant will open to others in the future. Bose says an update on Bose AR will arrive at SXSW 2019.
Not only can they stream music and deliver information, but the Bose Frames are also capable of taking and making calls and using virtual assistants.
Of the two models available, the trapezoidal Alto design looks most like the pair I tested at SXSW, while the Rondo Frames are more circular.
The Frames' sunglasses lenses are rated to block 99% of UVA/UVB rays and offer uniformly tinted lenses and distinct accents. Bose notes that the eye-wear includes including gold-plated steel hinges and charging pins. And while I demoed a 3D printed pair that didn't feel durable, these final models are rated as scratch and shatter resistant.
Bose claims the Frames' lithium battery lasts for 3 hours and 30 minutes for playback, and up to 12 hours on standby. Bose Frames are charged via a pogo-pin port on the inside of the frames.
While I can't wait to test them out, I've already got high hopes for these to be the first successful wearable, which should shatter memories of Snapchat's Spectacles.
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Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.