Bose launches Frames, a pair of $200 smart AR sunglasses with built in wireless earphones
Hi all, I just stumbled across something that sounds incredibly interesting. Bose are releasing a pair of sunglasses in spring 2019, They seem to have bone conduction built into the frames and they have a 9 axis gyro built in so they know which way they are pointing, couple this with GPS from your bluetooth connected phone and they claim to provide custom audio experiences. I’ guessing this would be something like museum guided tours or historical info on heretage sites or something, just my guess. Anyway thats not the point. Seems Bose may have just accidentally invented one of the best blind navigation aids ever with the bonus of being able to play music/books/podcasts too. They are not crazy expensive either, $199. They are called Bose Frames.
Check them out and see what you think.
The Bose Frames, with built in open ear Audio, have started shipping as of January 2019.
I appreciate that their limited battery life and relatively high price make them a niche product, but I can't help but think that they have a lot to offer. I for one, am keen to examine their potential benefits they offer to Blind Travellers.
I am not sure when they will be available in Australia, but any AppleVisiers with early access to Bose Frames, I would be most keen to hear your reviews.
For those like me who appreciate open ear design, I have also just learned that AfterShockz are releasing a pair of Bone Conduction Glasses later this year.
Lots to look forward to and lots to discuss...
I hear the glasses are the best thing since sliced bread.
The original poster said the Bose glasses have bone conduction, but comment #1 says that they have over the ear headphones (which I imagine would look rather odd), and Aftershockz will be releasing a pair of bone-conduction audio sunglasses. Which is accurate?
I've been using Bose Frames for over a week (pre-ordered and received on day 1).
The speakers are neither bone conducting nor over the ear, but an open ear design that has the speakers on both arms, and pointed directly into your ear. To learn more, please see: https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/wearables/frames.html
I think they're based on the same tech that went into the Bose SoundWear.
I've been using Bluetooth headsets of different kinds for a long time and these are my favorite.
* Exceptional high-quality audio, don't block ears, simple, and intuitive.
* It's amazing that everything is done with just one-button on the right-arm.
* Everything including case, bag, cable, and glasses feel extremely well-designed and I've been told look really nice (ultra modern).
They're very discrete, as no one has noticed that they have speakers built-in.
This is very excited in the world of audio, but I've not seen any mainstream or accessibility reviews. However, I'd be happy to engage in conversation here, and discuss these Bose Frames.
How audible are the speakers to other people? If you're jamming to some tunes on your sweet sunglasses, do they hear what you're listening to?
Sound is very directed, so it's only audible within shoulder length (less than arm).
Unless, I've the Frames somewhat loud, I've only been asked once--“what are you listening to?”
The other person was able to hear that I was listening to something, but it was faint and suddle.
So probably no different than someone listening to a pair of earbuds cranked up too loud. Very cool. I would love to get my hands on a pair of these...not that I have $200 to sink on anything but if I did, I'd be reluctant to if I didn't know I liked the look and feel of the shades.
So, Kevinchao89, how is using GPS apps with the Frames. These glasses seem to be a blind person's savior.
Do you find yourself wanting to use them all the time?
Do they slide off your nose?
What is the battery life situation. Since these are glorious glasses, how often are you charging the Frames?
Are you sitting indoors using the Frames?
Does your skull vibrate, like Aftershocks might do?
How is VoiceOver using the Frames? Is there any latency?
How is talking on the phone? Has anyone noticed a noise or anything?
GPS apps (e.g. SoundScape, BlindSquare) are a matched made in heaven with Frames. The 3D spatial audio relationship is absolutely amazing and stunning. This is where the Audio AR feels like it’s already here.
I think by me charging them 3x / day answers both wanting to use them all of the time and the short battery life.
I had to attach Silicone Nose Pads Adhesive Glasses Pads Non-slip Eyeglass Pads for Eyeglasses to the Frames, so they would stop sliding down my nose.
I’ve used the Frames indoors.
The bass isn’t too high, so there is no vibration.
VoiceOver works really well, wiht <= latency to that of other Bluetooth 5 and W1 audio headsets.
Talking on the phone works really well in open-ear stereo. Other party has observed audio-processing artifact.
Thanks for the info on the Bose Frames. I am officially jealous...
Would you mind letting me know which devices you have paired with the Frames and of your experiences, if any, swapping devices? I am interested in their ability to pair with both an iPhone and an Apple Watch.
I would also appreciate it if you could expand on your experiences with Battery Life. Bose claims, I think, 3.5 hours music playback and up to 12 hours of Stand by. Does this equal your user experience?
I am trying to rationalise their purchase, not so much as a music playback device, but as both a travel aid and as a means of discreetly accessing VO on my iPhone in public. Hopefully, this mixed case use might give me a little more than 3.5 hours..?
Finally, and this one may be a little subjective, but are the frames adjustable? You mentioned adding non slip pads, but are the nasal pads themselves adjustable? How about the arms where they curl around the ear? I know they're designed to fit a multitude of noggins, but even my ever loving Mother would admit I have an unfortunate shaped head..!
I have more questions, but I fear straying into weird Frames Creeper territory....
Thanks for your help.
You’re welcome! I’m glad my review of Bose Frames is useful and meaningful.
I’ve paired Frames with iPhone. 2 reasons I’ve not paired Frames with other Bluetooth devices, including Apple Watch, is Frames don’t have a way to toggle or cycle through multipoint Bluetooth (unlike Bose other products that are supported with Connect app). The only great experience I’ve had with swapping devices is when using a W1 chip Bluetooth headset.
Charging is done via pogo-pin cable (USB-A to magnetic, which attaches to the inside of the right arm). Battery life is very short. I’ve not had to charge something more frequently before. Yes, the battery life usage and standby times you listed match my user experience.
My why? for getting the Bose Frames is exactly your reasoning for why you want them. My majority use case are as a travel aid and discrete VO access. Yes, the music playback is a significant battery drain, so I’ve limited this when I have used GPS and VO more and am not able to charge Frames up. When I’m able to for ~15 mins, I try to charge the Frames.
No, the Frames are not adjustable.
I like these questions, so please keep them coming.
Here are some hot takes from first interactions with the Bose Frames:
They are are light weight. They are similar in weight to the Airpods.
If you are not used to glasses on your head, you will notice them on the bridge of your nose. A small irritation I am noticing.
The protective case they come in is a hard shell with a leather outside. To open the case, it does a unrolling method. A small magnet holds the case together and pulling it open does the rolling motion.
Charge cable is about 1 foot. One side is USB-A and the other end is proprietary. The connection to the frames is through pins with a magnet connecting the pins and cable to the frames. It is effortless.
There is only one button. It is used like other bluetooth devices and the original Apple wired headphones. One push turns the frames on or to an active state. One push after activation will play or pause media. Two pushes will advance to next track and three pushes will rewind to the previous apps. A press and hold will activate Siri or possibly other digital assistants. One press will answers a call and one press will hang up.
A small felt bag is also given to store the cable.
No adjustments can be made to glasses to fit a specific head size. They are one size only.
Now for the audio experiences:
Don't expect to listen to base music. None of that. In my opinion, these are not great for listening and enjoying music. They are probably best for spoken word audio like VoiceOver or podcasts, etc.
If the Frames are on your head, others can hear them if the volume is at 60% or higher. It is not that noticable, but audio can be heard. Going higher than 60
% is not needed unless public places are very loud. When is isolated environments, 30% is just fine for listening to content.
If listening to audio and frames are held or placed on a surface upside down, they will disconnect from the iPhone. This is a feature to disconnect quickly. If was music or video was being listened to, the content will stop if the Frames are placed upside down, which means the top of the Frames are inverted 180 degrees.
If VoiceOver is reading, web articles or something with length,VoiceOver will continue speaking if the Frames are held upside down. Just as if as if wired headphones were removed while VoiceOver is reading. In practice, this means I take the Frames off my head, place the top side of the glasses on the table, which is upside down, all this while VoiceOver is reading something, then VoiceOVer will begin reading through the device speaker.
Reading the News app with VoiceOver and the Frames is awesome. Things can be heard near by very easily. It is challenging for me to listening with one Airpod and listening to what is happening near by.
Talking on the phone is the best. I think the Frames do a better job than other bluetooth microphone devices because they are not blocking your ears and the microphone is probably centered, don't know for sure. In comparrison to Airpods, the Frames are way better for phone calls.
I use type to Siri on my iPhone. When holding the button for a few seconds, I am able to use voice to speak to Siri through the Frames. I also use Hey Siri and it works just fine.
When at 50% or lower people can not hear the audio nearby. Sliding the Frames slowly off the head, you can hear the audio fade away as the Frames leave your head.
Frames are not water proof.
There is no camera.
You could use the frames with the Aira glasses but you would look like a fool with two sets of glasses on.
The Frames have no logo. No one will ever know you have Bose Frames on, unless they are a Bose Frames user or just know technology. They are the most simple pair of black glasses you could buy for 200 dollars.
Every time the Frames are activated with a one push of the button, the battery life is announced and the connection status is spoken.
I have not used anything to keep the Frames on my nose. I have a large nose and the Frames sit nicely on my nose. FYI
The audio is directed right at the top of the ear.They precisely shoot the audio narrowly into the top canal of the ear.
If a hood is worn, the audio is amplified within the hood.
If you cup your hands over your ears while wearing the Frames, the audio is amplified.
The initial setup of the Frames may require sighted assistance because the current state of the Bose Connect app is inaccessible for VoiceOVer users when first setting up the Frames. The app team is aware and hopefully working on making the set up work for blind users. This a blind product after all.
The price is perfect for blind people to afford, in my opinion. The Frames are also a blind person's best friend for traveling and listening to Voiceover in private without looking like you are actually listening to something.
No skull vibration at all. Don't worry, these are not bone conducting headphones.
The Frames can be used while charging. Not recommended, but it is possible. I guess if need, you could use a battery charger and charge the Frames while using them.
The Frames come off your head really easily. :)
If you are on the fence about buying Airpods or a bluetooth headset of some kind, I recommend try before you own. Bose offers a 30 day return period and Apple offers 14 day return period. Airpods and Frames are relative in price. I would recommend the Frames over the Airpods at this point because of the lack of obstructions to my ears. Being able to hear my surroundings is more valuable than the awesome wireless convenience Airpods offer. Then again, just buy both because they are both awesome and you will need to use the Airpods when the battery dies on the Frames. I mean Kevin Chao 89 is charging his 3 to 5 times a day. He probably pops in Airpods while his Bose Frames charge.
They also charge relatively fast. No exact measurements on the charging periods available from my use.
Everyone thinks they are cool.
I agree with all of your points. My only wish is that it made a noise letting you know they are charging. With my portible battery bank I've had them plugged in and for some reason they haven't actually charged. I'm looking in to this issue. Also I read the manual where it states they do not allow you to charge and listen, but like you said it seems this is actually working if one wanted to do so.
In the youtube video, you gave a great comparison of the bone conducting glasses and the Bose Frames. You mentioned the Bose Frames sit comfortably on your head and the Bone Conducting glasses squeezed the head a little. That detail makes me feel very satisfied with the Bose product.
More Hot Takes:
More than one device can be paired with. No easy way to switch through previous devices.
In my use, I originally connected Bose Frames to iPhone, then later connected to an iPad. I did not use the Bose Connect app when pairing with the iPad. To connect back to the iPhone I went to Control Center on the iPad and disabled bluetooth. The Frames searched for the iPad three times then searched for my iPhone on the fourth try.
The Bose Connect App is not needed to use the Frames with a smart phone or tablet.
Listening to a movie or Netflix is awesome. It is only awesome if the sunglasses portion does not disturb the video experience. I turned the brightness to high on the iPad and the suglasses part was not to annoying for me. I have LHON if that helps with my visual perspective. Next I raised the Frames to the top of my head and I could still hear the video playing. I turned the volume to 50 percent and things were fine. I could hear the television show fine, but wearing them on the nose made the experience way better.
Talking on the phone kills the battery, but it is the best phone call session ever. Something about the nature of the Frames being glasses makes the phone call experience more enjoyable than using other bluetoooth products such as Airpods.
There is one microphone on the device. Upper right. Important to know because it is ina different location than other bluetooth headsets. While talking on the phone, you can hear the Bose Frame processing the audio. The results are clear and it is so amazing what is happening in such a simple looking pair of sunglasses. If there are many people nearby while you are talking through the Frames, the other people appear to be filtered out. There are even scenarios in really noisy environments where the Frames filter out the person speaking through them. I noticed that in an environment where I was talking to someone else using Bose Frames. We had a Frame to Frame call. Their environment was in a noisy restraunt and I was alone in an office. The Frame would clearly filter out the other people nearby. Then one time, the Frames replaced by friends voice with someone elses voice from nearby. It was so cool. This wasn't a defect or anything, the environment was really really noisy and the Frames were doing such a good job at cancelling out other sounds.
Just want to also mention that these glasses are so awesome for visually impaired individuals.
If you have heard of the Or Cam, a camera product for the visually impaired. I think a current version of it clips on to someones existing glasses frame. When I saw it at a booth, it was the size of a thumb or pinky finger. It clips or snaps onto someones existing glasses, such as the Bose Frames. The Or Cam and the Bose Frames could be a match made in AI heaven. I will look for an Or Cam to try out with the Frames.
Hi Kevinchao89, Joe and Mr Spinneberg,
Seldom have I encountered 3 such compelling reviews for a hardware product!
Thanks to each of you for compiling this information, I genuinely appreciate the insights you have given into the Bose Frames.
Can't wait for the Bose Frames to become available in Australia...
Have a happy day all.
How easy is it to unmute during calls via Zoom and/or regular conference calls? Can such a button be customized I wonder
The Frames come in 2 styles: Alto and Rondo. I initially got the Alto that are square. The Rondo are round.
I’ve had an issue with the Alto sliding down my nose, so ordered the Rondo over the weekend, and received them today. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s a tighter snug fit, even when I’m looking down at the ground.
I’ve been told that from a fashion style point of view--the Rondo look better on my face.
Mute, volume, etc. are done on host (iOS) device.
There are no dedicated volume, mute, etc. buttons on the Frames--just 1 button.
Are you talking about the annoyance that you may have when trying to mute a call and you zoom in and the proximity sensor changes the phone to black because you are holding the phone close to your face? The Bose frameswas a great can do nothing to prevent that scenario from happening if that is something you struggle with.
I could be wrong but I think @Justin Phillips is referring to muting conference calls through a conferencing service like Zoom or Skype, which usually have a control for muting your audio. My guess would be there is no way to do this with the Frames, as I don't think this can be done on most bluetooth headsets unless they have a dedicated mic on/offf switch.
@kevinchao89 does this mean you'll have a pair of Altos that you aren't using? If you decide to sell them on the cheap, you may have some interested takers on your hands...
After reading this string about the bose frames I knew I had to try them. Hands down, these are awesome!
1. Nothing in the ears is a huge advantage: I lost an airpod a month ago and that worry is over.
2. Sound quality is typical for bose. It is fantastic
3. Downside the battery is not great. You do need to charge them throughout the day.
Four. People may think you are crazy when you are walking around talking and there is nothing in your ear and no one around you! Ha ha Ha
Five. I bought the smaller pair and they fit perfectly.
Six. The microphone is very good. People have told me when they call they can hear me much better than they did with the AirPods.
7. Another downside is you do need your phone close by. For me this is not a problem because I usually do have my phone in my pocket.
Eight. I highly recommend these!
Anyone know how these handle getting wet? I'm not talking about submersion, obviously, but wouldn't want someone to get caught out in the rain and ruin their $200 Frames.
I asked the salesperson and he said they are water resistant. If it is a really hard rain I would probably take them off.
I presume facetime audio works ok with the frames? The information about the audio augmented reality released at sxsw sounds very interesting indeed. The only bad news is the UK release date has been put back from May to September
I did a facetime audio call last night and it worked well. For the person asking about zoom and muting you'd have to use the device to mute yourself if you press the button on the frames it will hang up the call. That's what it does on skype for business anyway I'd assume zoom would be the same.
One thing that does surprise me is when only using voiceover the battery seems to yeild really amazing results. I took these out using nearby explorer yesterday and did some walking for about an hour then I listened to a game over lunch for about a half hour and they were still at 80%. When using them for straight audio playback my results haven't been as good lol. I love them for so many things. They do struggle in noisy environments but I like that they're an accessory I can just ware all of the time.
Hey everyone, I finally bit the bullet and purchased myself a pair of these shades. Thankfully, they made their way into Canada in mid-May and our local Best Buy store carries them, so got mine yesterday.
Alright, so far, I've tried them this morning and am trying to figure out in which situation they will work best. I do find on buses, especially when they have the AC fans going, it's kind of hard to hear the sound, but what can you do, that's one of the drawbacks of this type of design.
For most situations, I find they work great. In medium and quiet environments, they're fantastic, but in heavily loud areas, not so much. Thank goodness for in-ear headphones. LOL
And with Canada finally getting Microsoft Soundscape, I was very pleased this morning when walking to work, hearing the various businesses that I never knew were around.
Now, one thing I noticed in the Bose Connect app were apps that were compatible with Bose AR. I was just wondering if anyone whom has a pair has tried some of these AR apps and which ones are pretty accessible.
I'm really confused about these. So are they just a pair of regular sunglasses with bone conduction headphones, or are the lenses themselves used for augmented reality too?
To mute the phone with the Bose QC35 II, press the volume up and volume down buttons simultaneously. This also works with other Bose headsets.
The Bose are not bone conduction at all. They are sunglasses with sound coming out of the arms and directly into your ears.
As for the AR part, I will leave that part up to someone else, although they have to have some sort of tech in them if Aira is planning to build some directional stuff into their app using them.
I bought the round (rhondo) Bose frames after reading that they were a tighter fit and worked better for people with small faces. I have a small face and head and have a hard time finding glasses that aren't too big for me. While I like everything about the Frames and the functionality, they were just too big for my head. They fell off my nose constantly and felt like they were covering my whole face. I couldn't take it and sold my Frames to a friend. Agree with everything on here about performance though. They were great on phone calls and worked well for VoiceOver and spoken word audio. There isn't enough bass to make them enjoyable for music in my opinion, but tooling around listening to VoiceOver in public without obviously listening to something was kind of awesome. I really liked using them in Lyft/Ubers where I could listen to GPS and know exactly where the driver was going without being obvious about it. If they would stay on my head, I'd love them. So if you are a small-headed human, try them on before you buy just to make sure.
As for the AR part of the equation, it's not really visual augmented reality, but more audio.
The glasses I believe have gyroscopes that detect where you are looking. I believe the AR means that the glasses can be used with applications whom use audio augmented reality.
One of the examples I recall hearing was relating to a museum. You could install a museum's app that would support AR, then while wearing the sunglasses, when you look at a particular piece of art or item in the museum, you would hear some audio through the glasses describing what you were currently looking at.
I do know that within the Bose Connect app, when you have the glasses on you, you can find various apps that support AR and can download them. Whether or not they're accessible, that remains to be seen.
I do know that David Woodbridge recently did a podcast on the Bose Frames and mentioned that he believed the AR apps at the moment were more gimmicky.
These glasses are probably not for everyone. I always suggest that if you want to see one, you should go to a nearby store that sells them and try out a pair for yourself.
I've only had mine for 24 hours and so far, I do like them, but don't think I'll be replacing all of my other headphones with these, but using them while navigating around town and using a GPS or Microsoft Soundscape, they are useful for that. Before, I had my regular sunglasses and a pair of Aftershokz, and never quite liked having them both on my head as I always found the Aftershokz kept shifting around. But the Bose Frames do provide both sunglasses and headphones in one neat package.
Hopefully, I've understood the AR part and described it properly. If I've missed anything, someone feel free to chime in.