Google acquires North, launch of augmented reality glasses

Focals by North smart glasses

Source: Focals by North

Alphabet’s Google announced Tuesday that it acquired North, an eight-year-old Amazon-backed company that makes smart glasses. The value of the deal was not disclosed, but the Globe and Mail, which first reported Google’s interest, put the price at around $ 180 million, which is less than the $ 200 million the company had raised, according to Crunchbase. .

Google was one of the first pioneers in the field of augmented reality, where computer-generated images are superimposed on the real world, often in a pair of computerized glasses. Google Glass, one of the first such devices, was introduced in 2012, but high initial prices and privacy concerns (the glasses contained a video camera) condemned its appeal among consumers. However, Google continues to make a version of Google Glass available to companies, where it competes with Microsoft’s Hololens.

Google said the acquisition would help realize its vision of “environmental computing,” where ubiquitous connected devices work together.

“We are building towards a future where aid is all around you, where all your devices work together and technology is fading into the background,” said Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services at Google, in a statement. “North’s technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and the future of environmental computing.”

The Canadian company, formerly known as Thalmic Labs, changed its name in 2018 when it introduced its holographic smart glasses, called Focals. North said Tuesday it will not ship its updated version of glasses, Focals 2.0, which would hit the market this year after the company announced it would cut production of its first-generation model.

The company will remain located in Canada.

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