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Tech startup introduces Amazon Alexa smart glasses

By Robyn Turk

25 Oct 2018


Startup tech company Thalmic Labs has rebranded itself as North to sound more like a fashion and lifestyle brand. The rebranding comes just after the company launched Focals, its augmented reality glasses that are the latest iteration of wearable tech.

With the wearable tech field growing and smartwatches becoming an integral part of most consumers’ lives, smart glasses seem to be the logical next step forward. Focals do not actually utilize a screen, rather they are built with a holographic lens that displays an image at an arm’s length away from the wearer’s face. The image is off by default and wakes up when a notification comes in or when the wearer chooses to wake it, much like a smartwatch or smartphone.

North raised 120 million dollars in funding two years ago to develop Focals. Along with Intel Capital, Fidelity Investments Canada, the product received backing from Amazon’s Alexa Fund, which allowed the glasses Amazon Alexa enabling as a useful tool. The glasses are made with a custom version of the Alexa voice assistant that will talk or listen once woken. Like any other smart device, Focals will show messages and notifications, call an Uber and browse news headlines.

Tech company North launches wearable tech eyewear

A pair of Focals retails at 999 USD and are only available in two physical locations: one in Toronto and one in Brooklyn, New York. While the glasses can be pre-ordered online, they must be bought in a physical location as each pair is custom-made for the wearer’s face and require a scan of the shopper’s skull.

"Eyewear is incredibly personal. When you buy glasses you’re weighing a combination of fit and personal expression to find the perfect pair for you. That process is very much at odds with how consumer electronics are built and sold today," said Stephen Lake, co-founder and chief executive of North, in a statement. "Others have tried and failed to create smart glasses people love because they built a computer to wear on your face and made them glasses as an afterthought. We did it the other way around. We designed Focals to be glasses first and invented new technology that we could conceal inside."

Photos: courtesy of North