North's smart glasses booth at Vision Expo
Smart glasses supplier North strives for “the power of discreet interactions,” according to its handout at its truck-like exhibition hall booth at last week’s Vision Expo East eyewear/eyecare trade show at New York’s Javits Center.
“We push for invisibility, because if technology is invisible, people can be completely present.”
Hence, North, which is based near Toronto in Waterloo (with showrooms in Toronto and Brooklyn), is approaching smart glass product “from a different place,” said head of communications Alexander Ingram. He explained that the new Focals line, currently available in two styles and three colorways, is “everyday smart.”
“We’re making smart glasses as close to regular glasses as possible,” said Ingram. “You don’t want to wear a laptop on your face—and you don’t want to read a novel or watch Netflix on your glasses, either.”
What Bluetooth-connected Focals does allow, though, is instant access to small, “discrete bits of information,” added Ingram, namely, brief text messages from people you care about (which you can respond to); time, date, weather, and calendar reminders; and intuitive navigation assistance in reaching specified destinations.
Focals also come with built-in Alexa capability for calling up music, news and weather. There’s Uber facility as well.
“Get an important text from Mom. Let someone know you’re running late. Find a coffee shop. I can do all this without getting lost in my cell phone,” said Ingram. “It’s a different relationship with technology.”
Focals’ technology involves a holographic right lens, upon which text is projected by a projector tucked into the right temple. A ray of light shined from the projector bounces off the lens and back onto your eye, such that the tiny display screen appears to be floating in front of you.
Controlling the action is the Loop—a four-directional joystick worn like a ring on the forefinger, with a button that can be clicked in interacting with the screen. Ingram noted that the Focal, which began shipping in January, is also voice-activated.