Google acquires Kitchener-Waterloo-based smart glasses company North

Yolanda Curtis
July 2, 2020

North's Focals glasses are significantly smaller than traditional AR systems such as the HoloLens 2 thanks to the compact holographic display projector inside, which Google could theoretically incorporate into future products. Of course, we're still waiting for the Fitbit acquisition to be approved, as well, so this could just be Google hedging its bets. It's quite feasible Google wants to merge what it discovered from the ill-fated start of Google Glass with the achievement (and mistakes) North has experienced with Focals to make a competing product or service.

It will be interesting to see how Google puts North's experience in smart glasses to good use, as the company progresses with its goals towards ambient computing.

Google buys Kitchener-based tech company North Inc.

North's team will join Google's team at Kitchener-Waterloo in Canada, which happens to be the same town where the formers headquarters are based out of.

North previously picked up Intel's smart glasses patents in 2018, shoring up its own portfolio. By acquiring North, it doesn't necessarily mean consumer smart glasses are back on the table. Not to mention, Google Glass was a bit of a disaster when it launched, resulting in the term "glassholes" to describe insufferable users.

There are lots of ways we can speculate about what North might be working on under Google's umbrella now - once the deal officially closes.

With Focals, North idea of an assortment of shrewd answers for a portion of the agony focuses that had accompanied before wearables like Google Glass. Basically, smart home and wearables.

North announced this morning that they've been acquired by Google, and it's possibly the most interesting news that I've heard so far this year in tech. The new purchase could also complement Google's acquisition of Fitbit.

The North acquisition shows Google isn't giving up on this field. North will join Google's existing team in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, where North is already based, and it will aid with the company's "hardware efforts and ambient computing future", according to Osterloh.

In a blog post today, Rock Osterloh, SVP of devices and services at Google, wrote of a Google-led future of ambient computing, "where all your devices just work together and technology fades into the background".

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