When Google Glass first appeared in 2013, the future of augmented reality (AR) eyewear was looking rosy – that is, until our hopes and dreams for the futuristic tech were shattered by disappointing design, privacy concerns, and stubbornly high price tags.
North is the Canadian startup that wants to change all that, and with the announcement of its new Focals AR glasses, it could well be on its way to making AR glasses cool again.
The new glasses look just like normal eyewear with a stylish gradient effect frame, making them unobtrusive (and putting you at less risk of being called a 'glasshole').
Making a spectacle
The Focals glasses connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, which then enables a tiny projector in the frame to beam content like notifications, reminders, and updates straight to your retina.
Amazon Alexa also comes built-in, so you can ask questions, hear the news, control your smart home, and more without the need to pick up your phone.
For the Focals to work, you also need the Loop, which is a ring that features an inbuilt joystick, allowing you to navigate the menus that appear when using the glasses.
How much will they cost?
If you want to get your hands on a pair of Focals, you're going to have to shell out $999 (around £770 / AU$1400), which will also get you the Loop ring, a charging case, Sun Clips (to turn them into sunglasses), and access to Focals Services.
The glasses are available to preorder now from the Focals website, and they come in two different styles and colors, including black, tortoise, and gray. Unfortunately they are currently only available to buy in the US and Canada, and you will need to visit one of North's showrooms for a fitting.
We don't yet know if the Focals will be launching outside of North America, but we have reached out for comment from the company.
With big brands like Apple rumored to be working on their own AR eyewear, it's not clear how the Focals will compete in the burgeoning market, but it's clear that AR glasses have the potential to be cool again.