Bye bye Bose AR, but AR for enterprise is still here

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The news about Bose AR may be a bad sign for developers targeting consumers, but AR for enterprise appears to be as healthy as it has ever been

Quick read

➨ Protocol reported yesterday that Bose AR was being shelved
➨ But Magic Leap is turning itself around and Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 is generally available
➨ Smaller players in AR hardware development are making equally impressive strides in the enterprise market

The story

Bose’s decision to pull its AR-powered smart glasses is yet another sign of the difficulty developers face in making this immersive technology palatable to consumers, but the enterprise market is continuing to go from strength to strength with new solutions and investment.

Protocol reported yesterday that Bose AR, the platform underpinning the Frame smart glasses released last year, was being shelved.

Bose Frames were released last year
Bose Frames were released last year

A Bose spokesperson told Protocol: “Bose AR didn’t become what we envisioned. It’s not the first time our technology couldn’t be commercialised 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.”

The news follows the widely reported struggles of Magic Leap, which has planned significant redundancies and the departure of chief executive officer Rony Abovitz, following a pivot from the consumer market to enterprise.

But the Magic Leap story has revealed the enterprise market to be viable for the spatial computing company, with an influx of an estimated $350 million in new funding and key strategic enterprise partnerships close to being finalised. The Magic Leap 1 certainly isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The Magic Leap 1 has been rebranded and pointed toward enterprise customers
The Magic Leap 1 has been rebranded and pointed toward enterprise customers

Microsoft, too, is pressing ahead with widespread adoption of HoloLens 2 in the enterprise market, with the $3,500 device now available to buy in the UK, US, Hong Kong, Singapore, Norway, Germany and a number of other jurisdictions.

The $3,500 HoloLens 2 is now available to buy
The $3,500 HoloLens 2 is now available to buy

Smaller players in AR hardware development are making equally impressive strides.

The xvision AR headset from Augmedics was recently used for the first time in a spinal fusion surgery in the US.

The now-launched AR surgical guidance system from Augmedics, which was approved for use in December 2019, allows surgeons to visualise the 3D spinal anatomy of a patient.

And Augmedics has raised $15 million in series B financing, led by its US staff.

The highly unusual move saw the company’s employees form a limited liability company, AUG Management LLC, to raise $4 million in an effort to secure and successfully launch Augmedics as venture capital all but evaporated during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Augmedics began series B fundraising last year ahead of release in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic scared off potential lead investors for the round, and a pause in elective procedures such as spine surgeries compounded delays.

Instead, Augmedics president and chief commercial officer Tim Murawski and 20 US employees and their families invested $4 million via AUG Management LLC.

Existing shareholders AO Invest and Terralab Ventures participated in the financing round with a $3.2 million investment, and undisclosed investors converted $7.8 million SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) notes.

Nissan Elimelech, founder and chief executive officer of Augmedics, hailed the work and dedication of the company’s employees.

Elimelech said: “The dedication of our team and the leadership of president and chief commercial officer Tim Murawski is outdone only by the incredible innovation that they continue to demonstrate in the lab, in the field, and at the board table.”

“The amount of money that the Augmedics employees committed to continuing operations shows how much they believe in what we are doing—in the technology, the strategy and the leadership—even in these uncertain times.”

Another developer making strides in AR for enterprise is CareAR.

Its new solution on Glass Enterprise Edition 2 enables field operators to perform tasks, train or resolve issues by interfacing hands-free with remote experts anywhere.

Through CareAR on Glass Enterprise Edition 2, users can initiate and receive calls for easy access to experts. Once connected, remote experts instantly see what the field resource sees, with live HD video and audio communications.

Google released Glass Enterprise Edition 2 in 2019
Google released Glass Enterprise Edition 2 in 2019

As part of CareAR, remote experts also leverage a full suite of AR tools that digitally overlay on the video stream, further assisting and guiding field resources to perform their task.

Pictures and video recordings can also be captured during the service session and automatically saved, ensuring proof of work for audit or compliance purposes.

“Glass for Enterprise Edition 2 is a game changer for enterprise field service teams,” said Sam Waicberg, chief executive officer of CareAR. “The combination of Glass and CareAR’s enterprise-grade augmented reality will create a frictionless user experience that helps accelerate adoption for those organisations that want to extend AR as part of their field services workflow.”

These are just four instances of AR being put to work in enterprise. The arrival of Apple Glasses in 2021 or 2022 might give AR for consumers the shot in the arm it needs, but AR for enterprise appears to be as healthy as it has ever been.

Main image: AR headsets on offer from Microsoft, Magic Leap, Augmedics and Google