June 30, 2020 – North, the maker of Focals smart glasses – everyday smart glasses with direct retinal projection and prescription compatibility – has today announced that it has been acquired by Google. As a result of the acquisition, North will now no longer ship its Focals 2.0, and has also made the decision to wind down its original Focals offering.
According to North, it became clear to the company that aligning with Google would significantly advance a shared vision for the future in which technology becomes an invisible, helpful part of everyday experiences and seamlessly blends into a user’s world.
In a jointly written announcement, North Co-Founders Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey, and Aaron Grant stated: “This acquisition is a terrific fit for North and, importantly, we’re staying here in Kitchener-Waterloo. We’re proud to have grown our company in the Kitchener-Waterloo region and are thankful for the tremendous support we’ve received from the community. We are looking forward to remaining in the region with Google.”
So it looks like the North team will remain where they are geographically, in Ontario, Canada. However, the main takeaway from this morning’s announcement is that the company will now no longer be shipping its Focals 2.0 smart glasses. The three Co-Founders continued: “We are winding down Focals 1.0 and we will not be shipping Focals 2.0, but we hope you will continue the journey with us as we start this next chapter.”
The company announced its Focals 2.0 in December last year, and stated back then that shipping would begin in 2020. As a result of the acquisition by Google, it appears that users will not get the chance to see and experience North’s Focals 2.0 model, and any users of its existing Focals 1.0 will start to experience the ‘winding down’ of this product too.
This winding down means that by July 31, 2020, features and services on Focals will no longer work. As a result, the company is offering owners of Focals a full refund for their glasses. Support will still be available until December 31, 2020, but after that, customers should contact Google customer support for any issues or questions relating to their Focals. Although, with no features or services on the glasses, existing users may be better off visiting their opticians by that point.
Commenting on the acquisition and on North, Rick Osterloh, Senior Vice President, Devices & Services at Google, said: “They’ve built a strong technology foundation, and we’re excited to have North join us in our broader efforts to build helpful devices and services.”
Osterloh continued: “We’re building towards a future where helpfulness is all around you, where all your devices just work together and technology fades into the background. We call this ambient computing.”
The technical expertise that Google will now have access to from the North team will clearly be leveraged to help Google as it continues to invest in its own hardware efforts and towards its aforementioned ‘ambient computing’ future.
Exciting news for the North team, but for owners of the original Focals model, as well as users looking forward to getting hold of a pair of the company’s Focals 2.0 this year, it looks like these will now cease to be a (augmented) reality, which is a real shame as the original Focals were definitely a great product. At least prescription owners will still be able to use them as regular reading glasses though.
To see Auganix’ Managing Editor’s thoughts on the original North’s Focals, click here.
Image credit: North / Google
About the author
Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past five years.