When we first tried out the wearable computer made by North back in January, most of us here walked away pretty excited. While not exactly a "normal" set of glasses, from most angles it's not obvious these bulky frames are housing a computer projecting an image onto your lens. As we got to try the glasses out for ourselves, it became clear Focals by North are a clever design with Work In Progress software. This is an incredibly ambition first effort, but ultimately we advised most folks who asked us about these clever glasses to wait for the next version.
Fortunately for those folks, it looks like that next version is coming in 2020.
According to North, Gen 1 Focals are no longer on sale starting today. The NYC and Toronto stores will exist as demo locations to show off the tech, with the NYC store operating in diminished hours starting soon, but the stores will not be closed according to North. The software will continue to be updated and supported for existing Focals owners, but there will be no more efforts to sell these headsets to new users. Instead, the company is going to focus on the next generation of the glasses.
North plans to provide an upgrade path for Gen 1 Focals owners to get their hands on this new tech.
What do we know about Gen 2 Focals right now? In a conversation with North Co-Founder and CEO Stephen Lake, we know there's a huge focus on weight. One of the biggest complaints about Focals is how heavy they are, especially with the design mostly putting that weight on the bridge of your nose. With Gen 2, Lake says the company is committed to make the updated design weight in at less than 50g, which is what you see a slightly above average set of regular glasses weigh. That's a lofty goal compared to 72 grams of my personal set of Focals, but Lake made it clear this is a design the company has been working on since well before the initial Focals were made available for purchase.
These new Focals will also be significantly easier to fit to your face. In order to get the display on Gen 1 Focals set up on your face, you initially needed to go to the Focals store and sit in front of a camera rig to measure your face and line up your eyes. It was a significant undertaking eventually solved by using similar tech on Apple's FaceID. The new version will apparently need far less set up, though there aren't a ton of details for what is needed just yet.
We don't yet know when Gen 2 Focals will be available, but North plans to be very open about the development process with loads of details after the next year. And when the new glasses are eventually available, North plans to provide an upgrade path for Gen 1 Focals owners to get their hands on this new tech. It's cool to see the early adopters are being taken care of here, and I for one am excited to see what these new glasses look like.
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