Rights & Money

Canadian Tech Company’s Smart Glasses Not So Smart

North Focals have gone offline after Google acquisition

By Erika Morris


The Toronto-based tech company North, which was bought by Google in June, has announced that its Focals smart glasses have been disabled. As of July 31, consumers can no longer access the glasses’ features or connect to the related apps, which were taken off both Google Play and the Apple App Store.

The high-tech specs had features similar to a smart watch and allowed wearers to check the weather or get directions. Because the glasses came with prescription lenses as an option, some can still be worn as everyday eyewear but are otherwise inert.

The first generation of the smart glasses was discontinued, and North canceled all shipments of the Focals 2.0. Refunds were issued to those who purchased the smart glasses, and the company said it would contact any customers whose refunds couldn’t be processed.

Though data scrubbing would have had to be done before the apps were taken offline, customers can contact North directly to ask to have their account data and sizing information removed.

The Focals project began in 2018 after North received US$120 million in funding from investors such as Amazon and Intel. After the Google acquisition, North announced that it would wind down the Focals as the two companies “advanced their shared vision.”

In 2013, Google tried to make smart glasses mainstream, but the project didn’t take off as expected.

It’s not unusual for tech start-ups to have to remove features from smart devices or disable them altogether after a change in business models.

North was founded as Thalmic Labs in 2012.

Photos: iStock/eternalcreative.