Can someone make augmented reality “smart glasses” that also look good on your face? Look North.
North, an Ontario startup, has amassed $140 million to bring its futuristic Focals to life. The Focals by North smart glasses are customized for the wearer and priced at $999 U.S. ($1,299 Canadian). That’s a lot, but a new smartphone can set you back by a comparable amount. And wearing these may be preferable to stumbling while you’re walking and looking at your iPhone.
Product Hunt compares Focals, featuring a transparent, holographic display, to those stylish prescription glasses and sunglasses offered by Warby Parker. North says: “The resulting aesthetic is bold enough to make a statement, but discreet enough for everyday wear.”
Will smart glasses be the next iPhone, the gadget everyone wants and almost everyone eventually gets? Lump Android phones in there too, of course.
The $140 million raised to date comes from investors including the Amazon Alexa Fund and Intel Capital.
Product Hunt notes that Apple is rumored to be getting into the smart glasses game, a startup called Magic Leap One has a set out, and Glass is now being used by businesses. The folks at Wareable have a ton of other options, and not all of them are dorky looking.
Focals are essentially a smart phone strapped to your face. But better.
The holographic display can only be seen by the wearer, and allows you to respond to texts, get directions, check the weather, call an Uber, or talk to Amazon Alexa (a mike and speaker are built-in). Users interact with Focals via Loop, a four-directional joystick that also can be pressed to click, so you can do stuff without lifting your hand. The glasses come with a Loop, charging case and sun clips. The battery is supposed to last about 18 hours.
As explained by a Verge writer, who got to test a pair out: “Each Focals pair features a tiny, color laser in the right arm that displays information from your phone over Bluetooth. That laser bounces off a piece of photopolymer material built into the glasses’ right lens, then heads into your eye. It creates a 15-degree viewing area that’s about 300 x 300 pixels.”
Focals come in Classic and Round styles, the colors of black, tortoise and “grey fade.” If you need glasses to see, you can include prescription lenses. Imagine, people wearing glasses you don’t need to wear glasses.
North was founded in 2012 by three graduates of the University of Waterloo’s mechatronics engineering program: Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey and Aaron Grant.
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