Google today confirmed in a blog post that it’s acquired North, the Canada-based smartglasses maker behind Focals. The acquisition price wasn’t disclosed, however early reports suggested it was around $180 million.
Founded in 2012, North (ex-Thalmic Labs) first set out to create Myo, a gesture-based armband. Pivoting from Myo and rebranding to North in 2018, the company then released Focals, which focused on creating a stylish, unobtrusive pair of prescription-compatible smartglasses.
“Over the last while, it became clear that aligning with Google would significantly advance our shared vision,” North said in a news brief.
The company says that it will be winding down support for its 2018 Focals smartglasses, and that Focals 2.0 is effectively cancelled.
North seems to be making a clean break with its legacy product, Focals 1.0. Starting July 31st, 2020, users won’t able to connect or use Focals or access their North accounts. The Focals app itself is also going to be removed from both Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
Refunds are being offered, as the company says in an FAQ that “[f]ull refunds will be given for all paid Focals orders starting June 30th, 2020 using the original payment method.”
The acquisition seems to have been a fairly quick deal, as North was talking up Focals 2.0 up until March 2020, advertising its prospective 2020 ship date.
This, you might conclude, may mean that Google is getting ready to completely integrate the IP somehow into its own Google Glass project, which has reemerged to serve the enterprise sector. It may equally as well rebrand Focals 2.0 as a Google device targeted at fashion-conscious consumers.
Is Google heading back into consumer smartglasses territory with its latest acquisition? Let us know what you think in the comments below.