Google Acquires Smart Glass Maker North, With Focus On Ambient Computing

Following talk of an acquisition, Google on Tuesday announced it has acquired North, a pioneer in human computer interfaces and maker of smart glasses. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We’re building towards a future where helpfulness is all around you -- where all your devices just work together and technology fades into the background,” wrote Rick Osterloh, SVP of device and services at Google. “We call this ambient computing.”

Ambient -- or ubiquitous -- computing isn’t a new idea. It’s the idea that computers will interact with humans in real-world environments.

In December 2019, Google developed an open-source technology called Flutter, a software development kit that allows designers to build an app user interface and then use it on platform like Android, iOS and the web. That concept isn’t new either. Microsoft once called this the building blocks to connect web services.



Google Glasses may have been the first to step into ambient computing, but the company seems to have larger aspirations to achieve something bigger. 

North’s team will join Google’s team based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada.

North, founded in 2012, focuses on “invisible” technology, making it ambient.

Early on, the company focused on new forms of interaction with Myo, a gesture-based input device that directly coupled neuromuscular impulses into signals that computers could understand. Then the company shifted its focus to Focals, its smart glasses with direct retinal projection and prescription compatibility.

North co-founders said the company will wind down its smart glasses project and will not ship the second version.

“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,” North co-founders wrote in a blog post.

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