Google buys Kitchener-based tech company North Inc

Google buys Kitchener-based tech company North Inc.

Google Keeps Eyeing Mainstream Smart Glasses, Buys North Focals

Google acquired smart glasses startup North to help the internet giant develop what it calls ambient computing.

In the blog post, the title was "Our focus on helpful devices" which pretty much tells us what they envision to do with North. Rick Osterloh, who is in charge of Google's hardware division, talked about ambient computing quite a bit as well.

Before the official announcement, Canadian news publication The Globe and Mail reported that Google would pay $180 million for North, but neither involved vendor has confirmed a price. Google saw limited success with its own "Google Glass" smart glasses, though the project lives on. As announced by Google on its blog. Obviously, these glasses don't have a touchscreen: North's first-gen smart glasses used a built-in mic and a ring (as in: touch controls that you wear on a finger) for commands. They say the deal makes sense because it will help "significantly advance our shared vision", but go on to noted that this will mean winding down support for Focals 1.0, the first-generation smart glasses product that North released previous year, and cancelling any plans to ship Focals 2.0, the second-generation version that the company had been teasing and preparing to release over the last several months.

In an email to North customers, the company also said it would be refunding the full amount paid for any Focals purchases - likely to defray any complaints about the end of software support, which occurs relatively soon on July 31, 2020.

There have also been numerous reports of Apple getting into the AR eyewear game, which may explain why Google is willing to invest in North right now. Continuing by stating that the company is "building towards a future where helpfulness is all around you, where all your devices just work together and technology fades into the background". However, North has done other work in wearables and hardware, so Google may have other applications in mind.

We've all made jokes about Google Glass before.

North's team will join Google's team in Kitchener. It'll be joining Google's Kitchener-Waterloo team in Canada.

This is a stark contrast from Google Glass, which could nearly pass as a pair of regular glasses until you peep the hardware near the right lens. And now with the acquisition of a company that has produced smart glasses, it's clear that Google isn't giving up on Glass for consumers. As they are working on some pretty cool stuff. Though it could come out as something very different.

Latest News