Walking-tour app takes a detour — gets acquired by Bose for audio AR

After the founder of a walking-tour app called Detour abandoned the company to develop a new product, speaker company Bose decided to stick its fork in the leftovers.

April 25, 2018

Speaker-maker Bose purchased an audio-based travel app called Detour to incorporate its technology into Bose’s new AR platform. 

The unlikely acquisition is the end of a strange journey for Detour — and a part of Bose’s effort to transform itself into an ‘audio AR’ company.

A roundabout path to success for Detour

Detour started as a walking tour app self-funded by Groupon-founder and walking enthusiast Andrew Mason. But, while working on Detour, Mason discovered a better product — an audio tool that lets users alter an original sound file by editing the transcription. 

Realizing the value of the new idea, Mason pulled a claaassic pivot — spinning off a new company called Descript, raising a quick $5m from Andreessen Horowitz, and poaching all of his engineers for the project.

With brighter skies on the horizon, Mason abandoned Detour — which was already performing poorly in the app store. So, you might be wondering — why is Bose interested in the leftovers of an unsuccessful travel app?

One techie’s trash is another techie’s treasure

Specifically, Bose wants to use Detour’s location-based audio experiences as an “audible layer of information” in its wearable — part of their goal to re-create historic events at landmarks as you walk past them.

Alongside the debut of its AR-glasses, Bose announced their goal to create “a world where everything you see is […] more meaningful — because of what you hear.”

Meanwhile, the only thing Detour’s hearing is the meditative drum of those dimes rollin’ in.

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