Bose Is Bringing Augmented Reality Audio to Coachella With Its New Frames

The sunglasses let users interact with surroundings while also hearing music

Bose is sponsoring Coachella this month to promote its new AR audio sunglasses. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

Bose is hoping to turn music fans into fans of its new sunglasses by bringing spatial audio to Coachella.

At the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival later this month in California, Bose will partner with Goldenvoice to show off its newly released Bose Frames, which use an augmented reality audio platform. The sunglasses, which debuted last month and cost $200, use a smartphone’s accelerometer and other technology to let users interact with their surroundings while also hearing music and other information.

The sponsorship—which was announced on Monday and begins today—lets concertgoers pair the Frames with Coachella’s app to hear “exclusive, real-time audio notifications and helpful updates” as they navigate the festival. However, because the speakers on the Frames don’t go directly into the ear, wearers are able to both hear music or information while also not blocking out their own surroundings.

“Fans who pair their Bose Frames with the app while attending the show will be able to spend more time looking up and seeing what’s going on around them, while accessing information that will help make their experience even better,” Crystal MacKenzie, Bose AR’s head of marketing, said in a statement about the Coachella sponsorship.

The idea, according to Bose, is to show how the emerging use of AR audio—built into a stylish set of sunglasses—can be useful to people in a place like a music festival without having users look at their smartphone. The company is also helping agencies, creators and brands develop a variety of other uses ranging from games and city guides to workouts and podcasts.

Bose had a big presence at another music festival last month in Texas, when it marketed the Frames during South By Southwest. During the tech and music conference, Bose provided demos inside of a bar in downtown Austin, where attendees could try on a pair to understand how AR audio works. This month, Bose is hosting a number of training courses in New York, San Francisco and Austin to help onboard developers that might want to build their own AR sound experiences for the platform.

“We learned very early on that almost half of our community represents content creators—artists, musicians, filmmakers, etc.,” Chuck Freedman, Bose’s head of developer relations, said an interview about the technology last month.

Music has been part of the focus all along—or at least when Bose first began building the Frames more than two years ago, according to Mehul Trivedi, director of Bose Frames. Because of the open-ear speakers, people can hike and still hear what’s around them while listening to music. (Or, in the case of a music festival, hear the music around them while also getting detailed directions about where to go next.)

“There are all these moments in your life where you’re having to pick between the environment and music,” he said. “What if you didn’t have to choose?”

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.