From sunglasses with speakers that broadcast straight to your ears, to a headset that uses your brainwaves to reduce anxiety, virtual and augmented reality is changing the way we live our lives, and products are popping up to make sure we take full advantage of these technologies. I got to try several of them out at an Atlanta event I co-hosted recently with Techlicious.com and the Consumer Technology Association and am not shy about admitting I’m obsessed.
Don’t worry, if you’re like me and your eyes tend to glaze over when talking about VR, AR, or really anything tech, here’s really all you need to know: all of this will make your life simpler, more relaxing and a whole lot more fun.
I’ll start with my favorite product: Bose Frames Audio Sunglasses
You know how when you’re running or wearing earbuds, you can only hear what’s playing in your ear and not everything else around you? Well, that scares the daylights out of me when someone pops up behind me and I didn’t hear them coming. These sunglasses eliminate that problem. They have miniaturized Bose electronics hidden in the glasses. It’s like tiny speakers in the frames. They sync with your phone’s bluetooth so that you can listen to music, talk to a friend, you name it. They are a state-of-the-art personal listening experience, but embedded in a classic design. There are different frame styles and optional lenses. Trust me. They rock.
I also really loved Healium. It’s an ‘extended reality’ kit which includes virtual, mixed, or augmented realities. It has software that works with wearables, like a Muse brain-sensing headband and virtual reality goggles. You just put the headband on your forehead, then put the goggles over the headband and secure it. Then, you relax, play a happy memory in your mind, and the experience starts. If you stop thinking about something positive, the experience stops. Happy memories trigger a blue line, which represents your brainwaves, to stay above a certain level. Essentially, the patent pending technology helps shift brain patterns associated with stress. Yes, it sounds a little like something you see in Black Mirror, but this is all good. Studies show this technology “increases gamma asymmetry associated with positivity and decreased self-reported moderate anxiety”…or, simply stated, reduces stress. In the goggles, you’ll view things like a relaxing afternoon on the beach (that’s absolutely where I disappeared to), hatch butterflies, light the sun and more. It’s good stuff. Trust me.
The Amazon Shopping App is another cool option I got to try out firsthand. It lets you see products inside your home before you buy them, so you can design and decorate right on your phone! You can see how products fit and know in advance how they’ll look. For example, you can see an image of a couch, or chair, or end table, right in your room just by pulling out your phone and trying it there. if they’re the right size for your living room, or whether a coffee table . Curious whether a chair is the right size for your living room, or whether a coffee table you like will go along with your sofa? Now just pull out your phone to find out. It works with Amazon Home products. Very cool for someone like me, currently remodeling a home and not sure how things are going to look in the end.
Another fun product I got to try out and actually take home with me: The Lenovo Star Wars: Jedi Challenge. It uses augmented reality goggles for the player to wear while entering into a Star Wars world where they can use a handheld mini lightsaber to take on others. It’s a Disney and Lenovo partnership that leads to a whole lot of fun for kids of all ages. I let a friend try this on and can promise it’s entertaining for them, and for you to watch them while they duel whatever they see in the goggles, and appear to be fighting something invisible before your eyes.
The final product was the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700. They’re described as smart headphones. You can take a call with a powerful microphone system for voice pickup. There’s a four-microphone system that picks up and isolates your voice while cancelling the noise around you. And, they are optimized for the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so you can choose the right service for you in the Bose Music app. To activate your voice assistant, just press a button on the right earcup. Pretty cool, right? The Bose AR*, a first-of-its-kind audio augmented reality platform that makes astonishing new audio experiences possible.
Products like these make me excited about technology and all the ways it’ll continue to make life easier. A decade ago I would have said it was crazy that I could take a trip to the beach just by putting on a pair of goggles, or listen to a phone call through my sunglasses, but I guess in this case, the future really is now. And I like it!
(Note to readers and the FTC: I was compensated for hosting this event, but as always, my opinion of the products remains my own. I would never endorse something I wouldn’t personally want to use myself.)