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Focals are similar to Google Glass, but powered by Alexa, and cost $1,000

Google Glass comparisons are expected, but these things at least look like a regular pair of glasses.

Published onOctober 26, 2018

A promotional photo of the Focals smart glasses with all its accessories.
  • An Amazon-backed company called North is launching a new set of smart glasses called Focals.
  • Focals are akin to Google Glass, but look more like “regular” glasses and feature a unique remote control.
  • You will need to be fitted to wear Focals, and they start at $1,000.

Although Google Glass has become more of a punchline over the years than anything else, it’s hard to deny how ahead of its time the product really was. Google gave up on Glass years ago, and Intel gave up on its own smart glasses recently as well.

However, a new company called North is ready to try to start the smart glasses trend again with its new product called Focals. Unlike Google Glass, Focals look remarkably like a “normal” set of eyeglasses and fix a lot of the problems people had with Google’s original product.

First off, there’s no camera on Focals. The eyeglasses give you a heads-up display of information but don’t utilize your view of the real world in any way. There’s a microphone on Focals to listen for voice commands, but the microphone only turns on when you activate it.

Apparently Google Glass isn't dead, because a new version has just been revealed

Speaking of voice commands, Focals are powered by Alexa, not Google Assistant. Amazon is actually one of North’s backers.

Finally, Focals are not controlled using buttons or swipes on the glasses themselves. Instead, you use something called a Loop, which is like a big, clunky ring with a tiny little joystick on it. Using the Loop, you can navigate through your heads-up display without having to raise your hands to your glasses. Theoretically, you could control Focals with your hand in your pocket and no one would know you’re checking the weather, reading text messages, etc.

North keeps Focals functionality simple: your heads-up display only shows text and simple line images so what your viewing blends in with your real-world view. Using Focals, you can check the weather, read text messages, get directions, check your calendar, and other simple Alexa-powered tasks.

Since this is Amazon we’re talking about, it’s a given that eventually you’ll use Focals to buy things or help remember to buy things from Amazon. For now, though, Focals appears to be more of a proof that smart glasses can be a thing in a post-Google Glass world.

Intel's new prototype smart glasses don't look as bad as Google Glass

Unfortunately, Focals won’t be cheap or easy to get. You have to be specially fitted to wear Focals which will require you either going to one of the two physical locations the company maintains (in New York and Toronto) or simply reserving your place in line, presumably for some sort of at-home fitting process to be developed. Once fitted, Focals will start at about $1,000.

The angular frame version of Focals will start shipping in December, with a rounded frame coming in early 2019.

You can learn more about Focals by clicking the button below.

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