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Victoria SongJust now•Filed to:ARARaugmented realitysmart glassesgooglenorthfocals by northgadgetsSaveRIP Focals 2.0. You never saw the light of day, but were cool in theory. Image: North

Last Friday, it was reported that Canadian smart glasses startup North was on the verge of being snapped up by Alphabet, Google’s parent company.

Today, it’s official.

North announced the acquisition on both Twitter and in an official blog. Details regarding the terms of the sale were scant, though a Globe and Mail scoop from Friday put the number at around $180 million. North’s remaining staff will, however, be staying in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada and joining a Google team also based there.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to join Google, and to take an exciting next step towards the future we’ve been focused on for the past eight years,” wrote North co-founders Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey, and Aaron Grant in the blog.

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In recent years, Focals by North was probably the most viable consumer options for smart glasses, with a not-too-dorky design and decent functionality. However, it was held back by limited apps, finicky customized fitting process, and an expensive price tag of $600 (which was discounted just a few weeks after launch from an original price of $1,000.) This past December, North announced it was ending Focals 1.0 and would be gearing up to launch a 2.0 version of the product.

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Well, it looks like with the acquisition, we’ll never know if a Focals 2.0 would’ve fixed the problems of the original. North’s blog says the company will not only be winding down Focals 1.0, but that the Focals 2.0 will not ship. At the end of the blog, North provides an email for refund requests, and notes that customer support will continue through the end of 2020. And, if Twitter is any indication, refund emails to existing North customers have already begun hitting inboxes.

So does this signal a shift back toward consumer smart glasses for Google? It’s far too early to say, though a case can be made either way. On the one hand, I spoke with Jay Kothari, project lead for Glass at X, for a Gizmodo series on smart glasses last year. When asked if Google would ever shift back to the consumer space, Kothari emphasized that his team’s focus was on the enterprise space. By acquiring North, it doesn’t necessarily mean consumer smart glasses are back on the table. North’s impressive talent and tech could very easily be used to bolster the Glass Enterprise Edition 2, which launched in May 2019. Not to mention, Google Glass was a bit of a disaster when it launched, resulting in the term “glassholes” to describe insufferable users.

That said, a few months later at Made by Google 2019, Google clearly indicated a renewed interest in something it terms “ambient computing.” In short, it’s what Google envisions as a seamless technological future where your devices work together and fade into the background. Basically, smart home and wearables. That tracked with Google’s renewed interest in smartwatch tech, as well as Google’s pending acquisition of Fitbit late last year. Unsurprisingly, ambient computing pops up yet again in Google’s blog announcing the North acquisition. (Google declined to comment for this story.)

“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,” Google’s Rich Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services, wrote in the blog. “North’s technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future.”

Meanwhile, other smart glasses and AR headset makers have floundered recently, with Bose shutting down its Bose AR division and Magic Leap laying off half its workforce in April before shifting to an enterprise-first strategy. It’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Google might decide to dip it’s toe back into this space—after all, Google Glass was the very pair of smart glasses that kicked everything off. It might also be a move geared at giving Apple, which is rumored to be launching its own pair of AR glasses in 2023, a run for its money.

Either way, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Know something about Google acquiring North and its future plans, or are you affected by the shuttering of North? You can send a tip to, DM me on Twitter (@vicmsong) for Signal, or contact us anonymously via SecureDrop.

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Consumer tech reporter by day, danger noodle by night. No, I'm not the K-Pop star.

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Tags: science science filed to ar ar augmented reality smart glasses google north focals by north gadgets made by google 2019

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Disgusting moment man kills a cat and BARBEQUES it in the street in front of horrified commuters

THIS is the disgusting moment a man kills a cat and then barbeques it in the street as commuters pass by.

The homeless man, who is not named, tried to cook the cat using a makeshift fire on a pavement near to the Campiglia Marittima station in the province of Livorno, Tuscany.

3The man starts cooking the cat near a train station as people walk byCredit: Central European News

According to reports in the Italian press the man was detained by the local cops but released later.

Anyone in Italy needlessly causing the death of an animal faces a jail term between four months and two years.

The distressing video was filmed by passersby as a woman is seen angrily confronting the man.

She says “we do not cook cats” and he replies “I do not have any money”.

The woman yells at the man: “You will go to work if you are hungry, as everyone does.

“I see you have the money to buy cigarettes, not the money to buy bread.

“Shame, poor creature.”

The Northern League MEP Susanna Ceccardi posted the video on her Facebook page, adding: “A chilling episode in its brutality, but unfortunately completely true.

“I congratulate the Carabinieri [local police] who arrested the torturer, now we are asking for an exemplary sentence.”

The MEP told Corriere della Sera: “I was contacted this morning, immediately after the incident, on Messenger by some citizens who described to me what happened, in shock.

“And from one of them I received the video: they are strong, raw images.

“Some told me that as they got off the train they saw the smoke and smelled a very strong, acrid smell.

“Someone even tried to stop the boy, but there was nothing that could be done for the cat.”

She added: “We are not in the Wuhan animal market but in Tuscany.

“To the people who have witnessed this scene this morning and who are still shaken by what happened, I want to express my solidarity, for the courage they have had, trying to put an end to this brutality.

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“Now you need an exemplary penalty.”

Italian politician Michaela Vittoria Brambilla called it “an unacceptable, terrible act”.

The footage has now been  has viewed 4.5million times and was shared by 110,000 people.

3When confronted by the woman the man claims he has no moneyCredit: Central European News 3Footage of the disturbing incident was posted online by an Italian MEPCredit: Central European News


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