Google bought North, a company focused on developing augmented reality glasses. The companies announced the news, saying North’s “technical expertise” will help Google invest in its “hardware efforts and the future of the ‘computing environment’.”
Ambient computing is a term that encompasses technologies that aim to deepen the integration of computing platforms into our daily lives. One of its goals is to assimilate computers around us to the point where we don’t notice that we’re making use of them. In the case of ambient computing, these technologies perform computing tasks for you without a direct command.
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The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. The acquisition also means that people who have spent up to $1,000 on North Focal glasses will no longer receive new features and functionality.
North launched the Focals 1.0 model in January 2019 and about a month later, the company reduced its price to $599.99. The device has a small laser emitter on its rod that projects images in front of the user’s eyes. It can be connected to smartphones via Bluetooth to display notifications, provide directions and call services like Uber. In December last year, North announced that it would stop producing the original version to focus on Focals 2.0. The plans have changed with its acquisition by Google and now the company no longer intends to launch this device.
North’s brief entry into the augmented reality eyewear market wasn’t easy. The company has laid off about 150 employees to continue operating. Employees also warned the company’s leadership that the glasses were overpriced and with a lot of men focused. Still, the company will remain in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada, following its acquisition by Google, which says it will continue working on ambient computing. Google also says it is “committed to the growing global technology community” in North’s hometown.
In the case of Google itself, it will continue to invest in Google Glass, making it a product for businesses and developers. He gave up a version for ordinary users after the release of the original Glass years ago. It is unclear whether North will help in the development of this product, but it is possible that its intellectual property and experience will contribute to this.