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Google just bought a smart glasses firm but reasons for purchase are unclear

What will Google do with North after this acquisition? We're not sure, but the second-gen Focals are now canceled.

Published onJune 30, 2020

Focals by North glasses from angle
  • In a semi-surprising move, Google buys North, a young company that made AR wearables in the form of smart glasses.
  • North’s Focals are now dead with the company winding down Focals 1.0 and canceling Focals 2.0.
  • While it’s easy to assume Google is working on a new version of Google Glass for consumers, it might not be that simple

In some major acquisition news today, Google buys North, the company that made some waves with its very Google Glass-like smart glasses known as Focals. Our own David Imel got a chance to use the AR glasses you see above — read all about the experience here.

Both Google and North posted separate blog entries announcing the news, with each expressing excitement about the future. However, neither company is being very clear on what this acquisition means for North’s future of making smart glasses or Google’s future of using North’s patents and staff for whatever it has in mind.

Google buys North…but why?

North ended its announcement post with a statement that it will be “winding down” Focals 1.0, the smart glasses mentioned earlier. In addition, Focals 2.0 have been totally canceled, with refunds going out to anyone who pre-purchased a pair.

Related: Focals by North review: Google Glass has a worthy successor

In other words: Google buys North and then North cancels its current and upcoming products. One would assume that would mean Google plans to use North’s products, patents, and staff to make something similar to Focals. However, it could also mean that Google has something else in mind.

Keep in mind that there have been plenty of rumors that Apple is gearing up to launch a set of its own AR glasses, tentatively called Apple Glass. It’s very possible Google wants to combine what it learned from the ill-fated launch of Google Glass with the success (and mistakes) North has had with Focals to make a competing product.

Whatever the case, the acquisition is likely terrific news for North, as rumors suggest the company wasn’t selling too many pairs of Focals.

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