September 18, 2019 – North, makers of Focals smart glasses, have today announced the online availability of Focals via the new Focals Showroom app. This release brings Focals smart glasses to customers across the US and Canada at scale for the first time.
North first announced its Focals smart glasses in October 2018, launching its traditional yet stylish augmented reality glasses, which project a display that only the wearer can see, connecting them to their digital world. The launch included the opening of two North Flagship Retail Showrooms in Brooklyn, New York and Toronto, Ontario, followed by two mobile Pop-Up Showrooms that have been touring major cities since February 2019, introducing customers to Focals with hands-on demo experiences.
The product has continued to evolve since its launch, with new enhanced software functionality consistently updating the product experiences – the most recent of these product evolutions being today’s announcement, which will now enable consumers to go through the North sizing process online without having to visit a retail Showroom.
Focals are custom-made for each wearer, and interested buyers previously needed to schedule an in-person appointment to go through North’s fitting process. To read more on our own experience of the in-person North sizing and fitting process, you can read our coverage of how it all worked at one of the company’s Pop-Up Showrooms from AWE 2019 earlier in the year, here. However, starting today, customers can now use the Focals Showroom app to go through North’s sizing experience. The app is currently available for download from the Apple App Store to customers using an iPhone X model smartphone (or later).
Commenting on today’s announcement, North CEO and Co-founder, Stephen Lake, said: “Our Flagship and Pop-up Showrooms have been a great opportunity to engage directly with and learn from our earliest customers, but we recognize our limited footprint represents a major barrier to customers outside of those locations”. Lake added, “Today’s announcement unlocks online access for Focals. With this release, we’ll bring everyday smart glasses to customers across the US and Canada.”
North partnered with San Francisco-based startup Standard Cyborg on the depth scanning for facial measurements and virtual try-on used in the Focals Showroom app. The depth scanning and facial measurement information gathered through the app is then used by North to custom-make prescription or non-prescription Focals for each customer, shipping them directly to the purchaser several weeks later along with instructions for final adjustments. Customers can also try on Focals in augmented reality in a variety of colors through the app.
North added that it does not sell or share any customer data collected through the app as part of the measurement process, and that any customer information and facial data collected as part of the sizing process is encrypted when stored. Furthermore, the data gets deleted within 30 days if a purchase is not made. Customers may also request deletion of this information at any time, according to the company.
Alongside the roll-out of the Focals Showroom app, North has stated that it will continue to operate both of its Flagship Showroom locations in Brooklyn and Toronto, as well as its Pop-Up Showrooms. These locations will continue to serve as opportunities for customers to demo or purchase Focals in-person.
Today’s announcement marks another positive step forward towards consumer mass-adoption of augmented reality devices. As easy and straightforward as it was to get a fitting done at a physical North store or Pop-Up Showroom, the process was limited by geography, meaning that only those who could visit a physical location (and in the case of the Pop-Up, wait for one to visit their town or city) were able to obtain their custom-made Focals. With the launch of the Focals Showroom App though, availability of North’s smart glasses has now expanded massively to anyone who can access the app. Here’s hoping that the launch of the app will help more customers take their first step towards a “new paradigm of technology” that North believes in – one where technology is seamlessly blended into a user’s world.
Video credit: North/YouTube
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.