Today we're announcing that Google has acquired North, a pioneer in human computer interfaces and augmented reality smart glasses.
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Update from Google June 2020: "Today we're announcing that Google has acquired North, a pioneer in human computer interfaces and smart glasses. They've built a strong technology foundation, and we're excited to have North join us in our broader efforts to build helpful devices and services." Read more about the acquisition here.
(March 2019) North is making the smart glasses relevant again. After the fallout of Google Glass we haven’t seen a real competitor in this space until now. North has created a wearable glass technology that once they are put on you can see a hologram through the lens. It is projecting onto your eyeball, not the glass, which is new technology that is different from past similar products. The ring attachment called the Loop allows you to navigate the menu, it is a little bulky of an attachment that adds another piece of tech that you have to wear for them to work.
The upside for this new wearable technology is the ability to stay connected and perform everyday tasks without having to pull your phone out. Having the ability to be able to respond on the fly and stay updated while just looking through a pair of glasses is promising in terms of efficiency and productivity. Knowing that North is in the early stages of product development as they gain traction and awareness, we will start to see more worthwhile features released in 2019. We are intrigued by the content and video possibilities that will be displayed through a hologram into your eye; but first is the focus on the more rudimentary features that will provide value to users.
The glasses can only currently show your text notifications, you cannot reply or even make a call. You can check the weather and get directions shown through the glasses, but don’t expect many other controls. You can however order an Uber which is a positive step in terms of having other third-party integrations come in the future. Hopefully more features are in the works, especially since the dumbed down Alexa in the glasses that can only play music, see news, or control your smart home, will add more functional features in time like responding to texts and answering calls.
The latest software update from North provides music control support for Spotify; including the ability to skip songs, adjust the volume via the Loop, and view the title and artist information. This is a great addition for third party apps and is something that many users check their phone for often, so it was a much-needed feature. Also, support for a new feature called Rewind uses the built-in microphone to transcribe voice recordings that will be processed, and the user will receive an email from North with the text and audio notes.
If you want to pick up a pair you will have to travel to get them at North’s showrooms in Toronto or New York. Experience is high class for the sizing appointment. Go in and a 3D rig scans your eyes and makes a model of your face to get a perfect fit for the glasses. The custom fitting experience ensures that your glasses are a perfect fit for the hologram to display into your eye. Downside is currently you have to go back for a fitting appointment once the glasses are in which is estimated at 10 weeks. Despite the wait, these smart glasses have a stunning design and sit well on your face. Currently available are the classic design or elegant round version shown below.
These glasses are good for seeing notifications like calendar, reminders, texts, etc. But other than viewing notifications and getting basic information the glasses are limited in functionality and are currently questionable in terms of the value at $599. We’re interested to know what you think, are these the next trend in wearable technology? As software is updated and more features are added, we see a huge upside of the augmented reality smart glasses industry, especially with the ability to display the holograms into your eye where only you can see. Stay tuned for new updates regarding all things AR; goHere to Augment Your Reality™.
We are now into the final months of 2020 with no real announcement on any mainstream AR wearables--despite considerable talk of an Apple Glass announcement by 2021.
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