Power

Another company is giving up on AR. This time, it’s Bose.

The audio company says its ambitious AR initiative "didn't become what we envisioned."

Another company is giving up on AR. This time, it’s Bose.

Bose's retreat from AR has been unfolding quietly over several months.

Photo: Courtesy of Bose

Bose has become the latest company to throw in the towel on immersive computing, shutting down its ambitious Bose AR program. Key Bose AR employees have left the company, and partners have been informed that their apps will stop working in the coming weeks.

"Bose AR didn't become what we envisioned," a Bose spokesperson told Protocol. "It's not the first time our technology couldn't be commercialized the way we planned, but components of it will be used to help Bose owners in a different way. We're good with that. Because our research is for them, not us."

Bose's change of heart comes as augmented reality startups have struggled across the board. Augmented reality startup Meta AR gave up on plans to replace desktop computing with dedicated AR headsets in late 2018. Last year, both ODG and Daqri shut down. And in April, Magic Leap announced that it was exiting the consumer AR business, laying off 1,000 employees in the process.

Bose had been pursuing a unique approach to augmented reality: Instead of superimposing images over a view of the real world, Bose AR was based on audio alone and provided walking directions, audio-based fitness instructions and games via compatible headphones. The company even built its line of sunglasses with integrated headphones and AR sensors. It now wants to utilize these sensors to simplify the usage of those headphones and glasses.

Bose AR apps will stop working within 30 days

Bose's retreat from AR has been unfolding quietly over several months. Bose SVP John Gordon, who had championed AR in his role as the head of the company's consumer electronics division, left last summer. Most of the team members working on AR departed or were let go this spring, according to an insider who declined to be named for this story.

In April, Bose closed its public AR SDK, making it impossible for new developers to build apps for the program. Around that time, Bose also started to remove mentions of AR from its website, including from product descriptions for its glasses and AR-compatible headphones. In the last couple of days, developers were informed that apps based on Bose AR would stop working.

"We learned a lot — mostly, that our work in AR delivered compelling customer experiences based on specific interests and specific use cases, not for broad, daily use," Bose's spokesperson said. "So, we decided to stop working on third-party developer apps and won't be supporting them beyond mid-July."

The decision to end the program comes as the privately held company faces financial turmoil. Earlier this year, Bose announced that it would close all its retail stores in North America, Europe, Australia and Japan in response to mounting pressure from ecommerce. The closures, which affected 119 stores altogether, resulted in hundreds of layoffs. And in March, news broke that Bose CEO Phil Hess had departed at the beginning of the year. The company has since been led by former CFO Jim Scammon, who assumed the title of president and COO as part of the transition.

A $50 million fund and a 'Star Wars' collaboration

Bose first introduced its AR initiative at SXSW in 2018. Back then, Bose AR was envisioned as a platform for both software and hardware developers, with the company suggesting that hardware partners would be integrating the technology into their own "headphones, glasses and helmets" as well.

The company first began selling dedicated glasses with integrated AR capabilities in early 2019 and also integrated Bose AR into some of its headphone models. Bose AR devices connected to phones via Bluetooth to gather location data and made use of dedicated sensors integrated into the headsets to detect head movements and orientation. This enabled developers to figure out where consumers were, know which direction they were looking, and integrate novel interaction models — think nodding in response to a question.

In 2018, Bose unveiled a $50 million fund to kickstart app development for its AR platform. The company invested in workout app Aaptiv, acquired walking tour startup Detour and struck a high-profile partnership with Disney to add Bose AR support to the "Star Wars" app.

Bose also partnered with Playcrafting, a New York-based game developer community that held events in five cities to get developers excited about Bose AR. This ultimately resulted in the release of 32 titles, ranging from music games to audio adventures. Playcrafting developers were informed earlier this month that their games would lose AR support in the coming weeks, rendering most of them useless.

Workplace

Is it legal to fire someone while they’re on parental leave?

Twitter is in chaos right now. But that’s still not a good reason to fire someone while they’re on parental leave.

Kayvon Beykpour was terminated during his parental leave.

Screenshot: Twitter

This week, Twitter fired the company’s head of Consumer, Kayvon Beykpour, in the latest shakeup related to the Elon Musk deal.

According to Beykpour’s tweet, the senior executive was on paternity leave after welcoming a daughter last month. This brings up a lot of questions around the ethics — and legality — of firing someone while they’re on parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at mma@protocol.com.

Sponsored Content

Foursquare data story: leveraging location data for site selection

We take a closer look at points of interest and foot traffic patterns to demonstrate how location data can be leveraged to inform better site selecti­on strategies.

Imagine: You’re the leader of a real estate team at a restaurant brand looking to open a new location in Manhattan. You have two options you’re evaluating: one site in SoHo, and another site in the Flatiron neighborhood. Which do you choose?

Keep Reading Show less
Fintech

Crypto is crumbling, and DeFi hacks are getting worse

The amount of crypto stolen in the first quarter of 2022 has already surpassed criminal hackers’ 2021 haul. There aren’t any easy fixes.

The biggest hacks of 2022 were carried out by attackers spotting vulnerabilities in smart contracts and protocols, especially in cross-chain bridges and flash loan protocols.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Until recently, DeFi seemed like it was on an exponential trajectory upwards. With the collective value of crypto peaking near $3 trillion, hackers saw a big opportunity. The only thing that may slow them down is the precipitous drop in the value of the tokens they’re going after.

DeFi hacks have been getting worse and worse, with no clear solutions in sight. According to a recent report by blockchain security firm PeckShield, the amount of money netted from DeFi hacks in the first four months of 2022, $1.57 billion, has already surpassed the amount netted in all of 2021, $1.55 billion. A report by Chainalysis found a similar trend, with the hacker haul in the first three months of 2022 exceeding a record set in the third quarter of 2021.

Keep Reading Show less
Lindsey Choo
Lindsey Choo is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. She is a graduate of UC San Diego, where she double majored in communications and political science. She has previously covered healthcare issues for the Center for Healthy Aging and was a senior staff writer for The UCSD Guardian. She can be reached at lchoo@protocol.com.
Policy

Privacy by Design laws will kill your data pipelines

The legislation could make old data pipelines more trouble than they’re worth.

Data pipelines have become so unwieldy that companies might not even know if they are complying with regulations.

Image: Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

A car is totaled when the cost to repair it exceeds its total value. By that logic, Privacy by Design legislation could soon be totaling data pipelines at some of the most powerful tech companies.

Those pipelines were developed well before the advent of more robust user privacy laws, such as the European Union’s GDPR (2018) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (2020). Their foundational architectures were therefore designed without certain privacy-preserving principals in mind, including k-anonymity and differential privacy.

Keep Reading Show less
Hirsh Chitkara

Hirsh Chitkara ( @HirshChitkara) is a reporter at Protocol focused on the intersection of politics, technology and society. Before joining Protocol, he helped write a daily newsletter at Insider that covered all things Big Tech. He's based in New York and can be reached at hchitkara@protocol.com.

Enterprise

Why AI-powered ransomware could be 'terrifying'

Hiring AI experts to automate ransomware could be the next step for well-endowed ransomware groups that are seeking to scale up their attacks.

Ransomware gangs don’t have AI ransomware. At least not yet.

Photo: Max Duzij/Unsplash

In the perpetual battle between cybercriminals and defenders, the latter have always had one largely unchallenged advantage: The use of AI and machine learning allows them to automate a lot of what they do, especially around detecting and responding to attacks. This leg-up hasn't been nearly enough to keep ransomware at bay, but it has still been far more than what cybercriminals have ever been able to muster in terms of AI and automation.

That’s because deploying AI-powered ransomware would require AI expertise. And the ransomware gangs don’t have it. At least not yet.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at kalspach@procotol.com.

Latest Stories
Bulletins