Canadian firm North bought by Google.

second generation focals

Google has bought a company that makes smart glasses, as a result of the inability of its product to break into mass-market causing North to suspend the Shipping of its second generation of smart glasses.

North, founded in Canada in 2012, said it would now be “winding down” support for its first-generation Focals and it would not ship the next version.

Google senior vice-president of devices and services Rich Osterloh wrote: “We’re building towards a future where helpfulness is all around you, where all your devices just work together and technology fades into the background.”

Apple and Samsung are also rumoured to be launching glasses, while Facebook’s Oculus division is looking to turn virtual reality mass market.

Holographic display

North’s Focals hide a computer processor, battery, and Bluetooth module in the arms of the frames controlled via a ring called the Loop and compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, a holographic display allows wearers to see notifications or even call a taxi.

A basic pair cost $599 (£480), with prescription lenses an extra $200.

CCS Insight analyst Leo Gebbie said he had tried North’s smart glasses, and thought they needed further refinement, but still represented a “crystal ball” into how the technology could evolve.

“The original Google Glass became an infamous venture for the company,” he added but arguably the product was simply ahead of its time. Smart glasses could be a revolutionary item of technology. And many Google services, such as Maps, would dovetail perfectly with the right piece of hardware.”

The race for the smart glasses market was “likely to explode into life in the next few years”, he added.

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