Augmented glasses: Tech innovation at SXSW 2018

Hot on the heels of CES, where augmented glasses emerged as a major product to watch, SXSW has been the launchpad for two new products that push this idea further – and solidify its status as a commercially intriguing product.

Audio product brand Bose showed a working prototype pair of smart glasses that apply the idea of augmented reality to sound, rather than its usual stomping ground of sight. Bose’s AR glasses respond to where you are and what you’re looking at, using GPS and head direction tracking, then pipe a focused stream of audio to your ear.

The glasses could supplement, for example, a trip to see a building with overlaid audio that explains some of the key historic events that took place there. In a museum, they could give you more info about a painting in front of you; at a statue, play speeches given by that person; on the street, tell you about nearby shops or bars. Bose will send out 1000 developer pairs of the glasses this summer, so that technologists and potential brand partners can start playing with them, and add some more use cases and product formats to the mix.

Panasonic meanwhile showed a pair of AR glasses that sync up with a program called Kronosys. The Google Glass-type glasses place overlay imagery across the user’s full field of view, rather than the discreet corner areas of sight usually used by smart glasses. Using Kronosys, which is aimed at the restaurant industry as a teaching tool, the user can be guided step-by-step through cooking – at SXSW, the brand was using a sushi making demo.

Again, this is early prototype technology, with no release or pricing details. But it’s another signal that smart glasses, a product category that received quite a death knell after the demise of Google Glass, may be on the cusp of finding a fresh market opportunity.

For more examples of augmented glasses that are making waves across technology and lifestyle, WGSN subscribers can access our full reports from CES 2018.

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