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 would expect from Bose. That means, in spite of offering the sunglasses form factor, there’s no heads-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 given 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.