Google is to close down North, just weeks after it had purchased the Canadian smart glasses maker.

At the end of June, North (formerly Thalmic Labs) confirmed it had been purchased for an unconfirmed sum (reported to be £145m), by Alphabet’s Google division.

North has been known for selling consumers smart glasses called Focals 1.0, which typically retailed for nearly £500. In December last year North announced it would soon launch a 2.0 version of the product, called Focals 2.0.

Google’s Glass Enterprise Edition 2. Image credit: Google

Focals shutdown

But the Google acquisition brought the confirmation that the upcoming Focals 2.0 would not be shipping to customers.

And now in a statement on its website, North has confirmed that its existing Focals glasses 1.0 will cease functioning on Friday.

“As we announced in our blog, we’ve made the difficult decision to wind down Focals,” the firm stated. “We will also be issuing a full refund for all paid Focals orders.”

“On July 31st, 2020, you won’t be able to connect or use Focals or access your North account,” it said. “The Focals app will also be removed from the Google Play and Apple App Store.”

North said that Focals smart glasses and its services are being discontinued and will no longer be available after 31 July.

Customers will not be able to connect their glasses through the app or use any features, abilities, or experiments from their glasses.

The firm said that full refunds will be given for all paid Focals orders starting 30 June, using the original payment method.

“If we are unable to process your refund, we will reach out to you to collect more information,” it said. “Once processed, you should see the refunded amount back in your account within a few business days.

Established player

North (or Thalmic Labs) was founded back in 2012 and had received funding from Intel back in 2013.

The firm was best known for MYO, an armband that enabled users to control objects through hand gestures.

However the company subsequently shifted focus to Focals, its “everyday smart glasses with direct retinal projection and prescription compatibility.”

Despite Google’s acquisition and the winding down of Focals wearables, North staff are expected to remain in the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Canada, operating as Google staffers.

Smart glasses

So does that mean Google is going to use the North to help it return to the consumer smart glasses market?

Well it is possible that North’s talent and tech could be integrated into Google’s Glass Enterprise Edition 2, which launched in May 2019.

Google it should be remembered, had stopped production of its smart glasses for the consumer sector way back in 2015.

Google took the decision after a rather lacklustre reception to the comical appearance of the wearable device, coupled with the privacy issues the smart glasses threw up.

Matters were also not helped by the high purchase price of Google Glass (£1000 back in 2014).

Quiz: What do you know about Google?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

Recent Posts

OpenAI, Broadcom In Talks Over Development Of AI Chip – Report

Rebelling against Nividia? OpenAI is again reportedly exploring the possibility of developing its own AI…

1 day ago

Microsoft Outage Impacts Airlines, Media, Banks & Businesses Globally

IT outage causes major disruptions around the world, after Crowdstrike update allegedly triggers Microsoft outages

1 day ago

GenAI Integration Efforts Hampered By Costs, SnapLogic Finds

Hefty investment. SnapLogic research finds UK businesses are setting aside three-quarters of their IT budgets…

2 days ago

Meta Refuses EU Release Of Multimodal Llama AI Model

Mark Zuckerberg firm says European regulatory environment too ‘unpredictable’, so will not release multimodal Llama…

2 days ago

Synchron Announces Brain Interface Chat Powered by OpenAI

Brain implant firm Synchron offers AI-driven emotion and language predictions for users, powered by OpenAI's…

2 days ago