On 30th June, Alphabet’s Google announced that they have bought subsidiary Thalmic Labs Corporation, North, a company focused on building augmented reality glasses. The companies announced saying that the North’s technical expertise will now help Google for investment in its “hardware efforts and ambient computing future.”
Both the companies didn’t reveal the details of the deal including the sum paid by Google. North says that with the acquisition they’ll wind down its Focals smart glasses functionality. This means that the wearers spent up to $1,000 on a first-gen pair last year will soon be unable to use them. In January 2019, North had launched the Focals 1.0 and within a month it dropped its price by nearly half to $599.99.
The pair of Focals to wearers’ phones through Bluetooth to display notifications, call an Uber, and provide directions. They featured tiny laser that projects images in front of users’ eyes. Last year, in December, the company announced that they will stop making the original version to focus on second-generation pair. In its acquisition announcement, the company said that it no longer plans to release that device.
North’s journey in selling smart glasses wasn’t easy. Last year, they laid off 150 employees just to keep the company afloat and also warned the leadership that they were male-oriented and overpriced. Even after its acquisition with Google, they will stay in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada. Google says that they’ll continue to work on ambient computing and creating a world in which tech “fades into the background.”
Google is continuing to push its Google Glass product forward and making it suitable for developers and businesses. After the launch of Glass seven years ago, they gave up on a consumer headset. However, it’s still unclear if, under the new acquisition, North will assist in product development as IP and expertise are likely to help.