I listened to these glasses at the recent PAX East game fan show in Boston. That was an unusual experience, because I had to listen, not look.
These glasses have sensors that can detect your movements, and they connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone to fetch Global Positioning System data to determine which way you are looking and moving. The glasses can send sound to your ears that comes from a certain direction.
Bose came out with these glasses a year ago, and it set up a $50 million fund to get developers to make applications for the Bose AR glasses.
An indie game studio in Boston, Worthing & Moncrief, made a game called Overherd to work with the glasses. Eric Hamel, one of the developers, told me how it worked. The game was a comic take on the opening scene of Monty Python & the Holy Grail, where a French knight in a castle taunts King Arthur.
Your job is to listen to the French knight’s voice and figure out where he is in a circle around you. You turn to face him, double tap your glasses, and let loose a catapult throw a cow at his castle. If you hear a crash, you’ve hit his castle with the flying cow. If I moved my chin up or down, I could change the elevation of the targeting.
I had to listen closely, but Hamel put some noise-canceling headphones on my ears to block out the convention noise. My hearing isn’t the best. But I was able to send the cows crashing into the castles, eliminating the French guy as he taunted me.
“They tasked us with creating an augmented reality experience that put audio first,” Hamel said. “It’s nod and a wink to the absurdist British comedy of the 1970s. This is the cutting edge of audio AR.”
While I was listening to the game, I could look around and see things. I closed my eyes to try to refine my hearing. It was weird to concentrate more on my ears than my sight. And I was the only one who could hear it.
To use the glasses, you open a Bose Connect app and make sure your app is updated. Then you can access Bose AR-enhanced apps. I think there’s a lot of potential for this technology, in everything from virtual sightseeing, or sighthearing, to games with spatial awareness. It’s going to be a challenge for Bose to make a lot of money with this. But hat’s off to them if they figure it out.