North picked up where Google Glass left off, and now it’s a part of Google.
Google Hardware’s latest acquisition is North, a wearables computing company that most recently was making smart glasses that seemed like a successor to Google Glass. Google Hardware SVP Rick Osterloh announced the purchase on Google’s blog, saying, “North’s technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future.”
North developed and released a pair of smart glasses called “Focals,” which came the closest we’ve seen so far to smart glasses that looked like normal glasses. First, the company didn’t neglect the “glasses” part of “smart glasses” and provided the frames in a range of styles, sizes, and colors, with support for prescription lenses. The technology was noticeably less invasive, too. Google Glass’s display surface was a transparent block distractingly placed in front of the users’ face, but Focal’s display surface was the glasses’ lens itself. A laser projector poked out from the thicker-than-normal temple arms and fired into the lens, which has a special coating, allowing the projection to reflect light into the eye.
As you can probably guess from the thicker arms, all the computer components and the battery were smushed into the arms. The device worked a lot like a smartwatch, tethering to your phone for Internet and personal data.