Google acquires North, which makes smart glasses similar to Google Glass

Key Points
  • Google has bought North, formerly Thalmic Labs.
  • The company makes smart glasses that display computerized information superimposed over the real world, similar to Google Glass.

In this article

Focals by North smart glasses
Source: Focals by North

Alphabet's Google announced Tuesday that it acquired North, an 8-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, placed the price at around $180 million, which is less than the $200 million the company had raised, according to Crunchbase.

Google was an early pioneer in the field of augmented reality, where computer-generated images are superimposed over the real world, often in a pair of computerized glasses. Google Glass, one of the first such devices, was unveiled in 2012, but high initial pricing and privacy concerns -- the glasses contained a video camera -- doomed its appeal among consumers. Nonetheless, Google continues to make a version of Google Glass available to enterprises, where it competes with Microsoft's HoloLens.

Google said that the acquisition would help realize its vision of "ambient computing," where ubiquitous connected devices work together.

"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," Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services at Google said in a statement. "North's technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future."

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

The company will remain in Canada.  

WATCH CNBC take North's Focal glasses for a spin in 2018:

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