SCOOP: Smart-glasses maker @focalsbynorth, once one of Canada’s most high-profile startups, is being bought by Google/Alphabet for about $180-million, sources say. We’ve learned the company likely sold very, very few Focals and was running out of money. https://t.co/SbGYyBycqt
— josh o’kane (@joshokane) June 26, 2020
According to The Globe and Mail, the search giant paid approximately $180 million to buy the startup. Despite a $400 price cut at the start of 2019, North had reportedly sold very few of its Focals smart glasses to consumers, and the Globe says the company was running out of money before the deal came about. In April, North co-founder Stephen Lake teased that North was working on a second-generation model.
With Focals, North thought of a variety of clever solutions to some of the pain points that had come with earlier wearables like Google Glass. For instance, each pair of Focals came with a ring you would wear on your index finger. It featured a small joystick and D-pad to allow you to control the smart glasses without touching them and drawing attention to yourself.
No one could accuse you of being a “glasshole” because Focals were discrete in a way that Google Glass was not. The problem was that they were too expensive. Before North discounted them, a pair of Focals cost $1,000. You also had to get custom fitted for them at a physical retail store. All of those were significant issues for technology that did not feel indispensable.