Smart Glasses to Become Dumb Glasses a Month After Google Buys Company

Canadian smart glasses maker North announced it was bought by Google on June 30, and now its $600 Focals will be non-functional as of July 31. The company is offering full refunds.
July 30, 2020, 3:56pm
Smart Glasses to Become Dumb Glasses a Month After Google Buys Focals Maker North
Screengrab: bynorth.com

Smart glasses made by a company recently acquired by Google will have their smart features disabled after Friday, July 31, the company behind them announced on its website.

“Focals smart glasses and its services are being discontinued and will no longer be available after July 31st, 2020,” Canadian company North, previously known as Thalmic Labs, said in a statement shared on its website. “You won’t be able to connect your glasses through the app or use any features, abilities, or experiments from your glasses.”

North was founded as Thalmic Labs (makers of the Myo wearable) in 2012, before rebranding as a maker of Google Glass-esque smart glasses in 2018 with backing from Amazon and Intel. Its Alexa-integrated Focals smart glasses allow wearers to perform tasks like checking the weather or getting directions through the hi-tech eyewear. A 2019 review by the Verge described Focals smart glasses as “a $600 smartwatch for your face.” The company operated showrooms in Toronto and Brooklyn.

On June 30,  North announced that it had been acquired by Google, and in a blog post, the company stated that they would be “winding down Focals 1.0” and “not be shipping Focals 2.0.”

“Over the last while, it became clear that aligning with Google would significantly advance our shared vision,” North wrote in its blog post.

In an email sent to customers this week and in a statement on its website, the company clarified what “winding down” means: it will stop providing support and services for Focals smart glasses altogether, and the app used for Focals smart glasses will be removed from the Google Play and Apple App Store. Owners of Focals smart glasses also won’t have access to their North account.

The company is providing full refunds “for all paid Focals orders,” and anyone concerned about their data is advised to erase it by performing a factory reset through their Focals app. Users can also contact the company directly to have their account data and sizing information removed.

Spokespeople for Google, where North is currently directing press inquiries, were not immediately available to comment.