- Electronics maker Bose will provide Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival attendees what it's calling the first audio augmented reality (AR) experience, according to a company announcement.
- Wearers of its Bose Frames sunglasses, which are specially equipped with miniature speakers and a Bluetooth connection, will have access to exclusive audio content and festival updates, like reminders when their favorites artists are about to perform.
- Bose collaborated with festival organizer Goldenvoice to add the audio AR feature to the core Coachella smartphone app. The $200 Bose Frames will be available at merchandise tents at the festival or on Bose's website beforehand.
While AR has historically referred to immersive visual experiences, such as seeing digital images overlaid on the real world through a smartphone, aural features are critical to creating more immersive computer-generated environments for mobile consumers. Bose aims to reach tech-savvy consumers who are ready to take a break from screens and feel more in tune with their natural surroundings at Coachella. The company is building on its decades of experience in crafting high-end speakers with last year's release of Bose Frames, whose first capabilities included making calls and listening to music. The company showed off a prototype of its Bose AR platform at last month's South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, but the rollout at Coachella and exclusive festival content mark the first live implementation of the tech at a music festival.
At SXSW, Bose showcased how brands can use the technology to reach wearers without being too intrusive in their field of vision. The company collaborated with Golfshot and meditation app Headspace on audio AR experiences for wearers of Bose Frames, per The Drum. Golfshot showed how golfers looking for the green on a new course can get guidance from a beeping sound, while Headspace demonstrated how guided meditation sessions can include instructions on head movements.
Bose isn't alone in developing the latest high-tech earwear, which are also called "hearables" or "ear-worn devices." Amazon is developing earbuds that work with its voice-powered virtual assistant Alexa and may hit the market as early as this year. Amazon seeks to take on Apple, whose AirPods have become a hit product since their introduction in 2016.
The market for wearable technology including wireless headphones is forecast to grow 15% to 198.5 million units this year, per the International Data Corporation (IDC). Yearly growth of about 9% suggests that the wearables market will expand to 279 million devices by the end of 2023. Earwear will be the second-biggest category of wearables after smartwatches with a 31% share of the market by 2023, per IDC.