Google failed miserably at putting a computer on your face, but that doesn’t mean we’re done seeing companies try to create such devices. And the more technology advances, the more unobtrusive these devices are expected to be. Apple is developing augmented reality glasses that will work with the iPhone, but Apple happens to be just one of the big players in the industry that’s expected to deliver AR eyewear soon. The AR glasses above comes from a Canadian startup called North, and look just like normal glasses. They’re even less conspicuous than Snap’s Spectacles.
The North Focals are available for preorder for $999, which isn’t exactly affordable. They come with prescription or non-prescription lenses, but you’ll need an appointment to customize your pair in either case.
A projector placed inside the frame will beam content into your retina, which explains why the Focals look almost like normal glasses.
When it comes to the kind of AR content the Focals will deliver, you can expect things like messages, calendar updates, reminders, weather details, Amazon Alexa, and turn-by-turn navigation. A smartphone is required to handle the actual data that’s beamed to your eyes, and the Focals will hook up to your phone via Bluetooth.
As you can see, there’s no camera on the Focals, which means you won’t be able to take pictures or record videos. That was one of many creepy Google Glass features that people complained about.
To control the AR elements that will pop on your retina, you’ll need the Loop, a ring that comes with the glasses to let you navigate menus. In addition to the Loop, that $999 also gets you a charging case, as well as Focals Services and Sun Clips.
The Focals come in two versions, including Classic and Round, and three color options (Black, Tortoise, and Grey Fade). You can set appointments in Brooklyn or Toronto Showrooms to preorder yours, with the first non-prescription units set to ship by the end of the year. Prescription Focals will be available next year.
Focals certainly offer an interesting way of interacting with a phone without actually pulling it out of your pocket or purse. But only time will tell if North will be able to compete against similar products that will be inevitably launched by various smartphone makers in the next few years.