North ends production of Focals, set to launch second generation smart glasses in 2020

North has ended the production and sale of the first generation of its Focals smart glasses, announcing on Tuesday Focals 2.0.

The second-generation smart glasses are set to begin shipping in 2020. Waterloo-based North called the new Focals “the most significant product introduction to date in the [smart glasses] category.”

“The first generation of Focals marked the evolution of traditional glasses to smart glasses, with a considered design representing the first true everyday smart glasses available on the market,” said Stephen Lake, CEO and co-founder of North. “Focals 2.0 are at a completely different level, as the most advanced smart glasses ever made. They represent an enormous step forward in engineering the future.”

North’s first generation Focals were the startup’s first product after it rebranded from Thalmic Labs, where it originally created the Myo armband. BetaKit first reported in September 2018 that North was set to launch the smart glasses in October of that year. In 2019, North has opened showrooms in Toronto and Brooklyn, has been rumoured to have raised an unconfirmed $40 million USD in convertible debt financing, and received $24 million from the federal government for advanced testing of products. North reports that it has raised $228 million CAD ($170 million USD) to date.

The smart glasses startup was also forced to lay off 150 employees (a third of the company) in February, which followed the decision to reduce the price of Focals from $1,330 CAD to $799 CAD, with prescription glasses costing $200 more.

“We spent the last year in the market learning how to build, sell, and support smart glasses with our first-generation product, that we now will combine with over five years of research working on the technology upgrades in Focals 2.0,” said Lake.

North has not disclosed the exact date that Focals 2.0 will begin shipping, but noted that it will be revealing more information on the smart glasses product in coming months. What has been revealed so far is that North “further miniaturized” the technology that goes into its Focals by 40 percent, making the new product lighter, sleeker, and have 10 times more powerful retinal display.

Meagan Simpson

Meagan Simpson

Meagan is the Associate Editor for BetaKit. A tech writer that is super proud to showcase the Canadian tech scene. Background in almost every type of journalism from sports to politics. Podcast and Harry Potter nerd, photographer and crazy cat lady.