Google is acquiring the Canadian startup North, an augmented reality (AR) glasses company, to confirm earlier rumors about the acquisition.
The deal thus seems to be another step towards realizing Google’s core strategy: ambient computing – a concept that refers to technologies that allow people to use a computer or Internet-enabled devices without actually realizing they are doing so.
Last Friday, a rumor started that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, intended to snap up North, sparking the public’s interest in Google’s next step – and posing the question whether or not Google would shift back towards smart glasses?
Then, on June 30th, Google and North officially confirmed the purchase, and announced the acquisition, albeit with few details of the deal released.
According to the Toronto based Globe and Mail, however, the purchase price might amount to US$180 million.
North, a Canada based company was founded in 2012, and is known for standing out from the crowd in the consumer electronics market by virtue of its innovative products such as Focals.
Although still limited in spread as a result of a somewhat cumbersome customization process and high price, Focals are currently the most promising options out there in the consumer smart glasses market.
Prior to the acquisition, North had announced it was going to wind down its Focals 1.0 range to test Focals 2.0. But for now it appears North will not only discontinue the production line of Focals 1.0 but will also cancel its Focals 2.0 release.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled (than) to join Google, and to take an exciting next step towards the future we’ve been focused on for the past eight years.” stated North co-founders Stephen Lake, Matthew Bailey, and Aaron Grant.
In 2019, Glass Enterprise Edition 2 (EE2) hit the market and indirectly expressed Google’s attitude towards Google Glass.
And, in spite of its limited application at the time, Google did not give up on consumer smart glasses.
After a few months at Made by Google 2019, the company specifically stated its growing interest in ambient computing, and at the end of 2019, Google purchased Fitbit, an America-based smart watch company.
This acquisition was seen by industry watchers as a hint that Google’s internal goals had switched to the world of ambient computing.
“North’s technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future.” said Rick Osterloh, Google senior vice president of devices and services.
Buying North confirms Google’s ambition in its transition towards ambient computing.
However, the tech giant might not have things all its own way, as sources indicate that Apple will launch its own AR glasses in 2023.