North is trying to become the Warby Parker of augmented reality glasses

Few people would like to wear smart glasses or goggles, but the startup company Google Glass or Snapchat Spectacles thinks they understand the laws of augmented reality. The new North in Thalmic Labs launches its first product, Focals, today to launch Warby Parker-esque stores selling eyeglasses. I am going to make the first pair of "everyday smart glasses".

When I met the CEO of Steven Lake in North Carolina, I was wearing Focals, which was under construction at a new Brooklyn store in New York last week. I immediately scan his face and find out where the display is and spot the dots and settle on a small point on the right lens of his glasses. The photopolymer material used as the marking position is mostly inconspicuous, but you should wipe the glasses if you catch the light.

I went to the store to try out the Focals purchase experience for myself and to see what the casual smart glasses fuss was. The glasses show a lot of information to the wearer on their mobile phone. You can call Uber.

The lake and his team took me through the buying process, sitting in a darkened room surrounded by 16 cameras and a crew. . I had to put my hair back on a cotton headband (I had to keep it!) And I painted my face with a pair of software-made glasses on the screen. The camera took multiple pictures at the same time to create a 3D model of my ear, nose, eyes and face. I'm sure it's really attractive!


north is trying to become the warby parker of augmented reality glasses

Photo of Ashley Carman / The Verge

The first scan did not work and I had to attach a separate plastic headband to help guide the software to follow my ears.


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Pictures of The Verge

It was finally effective. And now I can actually try a pair of Pocas.

Each Focals pair has a small colored laser in the right arm that displays information from your phone via Bluetooth. The laser splits a piece of photopolymer material embedded in the right lens of the eyeglasses and then faces your eye. Create a 15-footer area of ​​about 300 x 300 pixels.

Glasses utilize telephoto projection and work much like Intel's disassembled Vaunt Smart Glasses project. The back of the retina that focuses everything. You can have Focals with or without a prescription or contact. However, Foals does not work with EMG and can only handle prescriptions between +2 and -4.


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Photo of Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

We created north eyewear software and designed the in-house UI. . It's colorful with a few animations that I think are good for me. You can view the message, send an automated response from the north via SMS, call Uber, get directions through the map box, view the calendar, and see the weather.

If you do not use the image for 3 seconds, the image will automatically disappear. The team in the north wants an expansion option, but the team in the north likes the idea of ​​an inconspicuous technology that can keep us "around the real world." 19659014] Ashley Carman / The Verge Photos

There is enough battery for each pair for 18 hours and can only be charged for companion. This case also charges the loop, which is a required Focals accessory. Loop is a plastic ring with a button like a joystick, similar to the smart ring of plastic you saw on the market. It is bulky and unattractive, but you can swipe the interface of the glasses without the wearer touching the glasses or hitting the head. The ring is more meaningful to me, but again it is ugly.

You can swipe the notifications by pushing the loop joystick left or right and pressing down. Yes, because Alexa is built in, it can also be used to trigger Alexa helper for Amazon. The glasses have a microphone and a speaker, so you can order Alexa and hear the answer if necessary. (Amazon was a major investor in the Series B fund in the north.)


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Photograph by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

They are divided into two styles and three colors, each containing a pair of black or copper clip-on sunglasses. It's not a lot of style, but it's definitely not the odd level of Google Glass or Snap Snapacer.

Everything about glasses needs to be customized. The lake tells us that the north runs a huge factory in Canada that processes the spells and gives each wearer frame and lens matching. Keep in mind that you must maintain the display directly in your field of view. Otherwise, the measurements are important when the glasses are successful.


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Amelia Holowaty Photo: Krales / The Verge

I tried to create a demo pair, but Alexa had some hiccups like I did not immediately respond to my orders, but I did not hate the experience. It is the most enjoyable of my AR demos and much more stable than virtual reality. It feels manageable. In other words, at night I am interested in testing glasses to see how bright the projector is. Plastic rings should be worn to wear glasses.

And because it costs a lot, prescription lenses, anti-glare coatings, and fittings. You can apply for a claim with a claim, but you need a lot of money given that the wearer of glasses owns several pairs of affordable frames. It will be sold at a Brooklyn store or another company in Toronto, Ontario. If your order is fully functional, it will take about two weeks to process your order, and the first pair will be available during the year-end and New Year holidays. However, only classic frames are available. Like the prescription lens, a circular frame will be released in 2019.

The laser projected onto my retina sounds futuristic, but I would not be surprised if more companies start exploring this space. It's more fun than watching a very bright screen all day long. But I do not trust every company will cherish the invisible interface as North Korea says. So if the glasses do not sleep automatically after 3 seconds, the floating display in front of your face all day will not really be too good.

Revision day October 23 8:34 AM: A The previous version of this article mentioned some cases with North Lab. We regret the error.

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