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Google acquires holographic glasses startup North

Google has confirmed that it has acquired North, a Canadian augmented reality (AR) wearables company backed by Amazon and Intel. Neither Google or North confirmed the value of the acquisition, however The Globe and Mail, which first reported on Alphabet’s impending acquisition last week, quoted sources as saying the deal was pegged at around $180 million. For context, North had raised close to $200 million in a mixture of equity, debt, and grants, meaning that if the reported acquisition price is accurate, this is something akin to a firesale. North will wind down its own business, and the team will join Google’s existing hub in Kitchener, Ontario, where North is already based. Google didn’t state specifically what it has in store for North’s technology, but Rick Osterloh — senior VP for devices & services at Google — said that North’s technical expertise will “help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future.”. Founded in 2012 initially as Thalmic Labs, the Kitchener, Ontario-based company was originally known for a gesture- and motion-guided device called Myo, a $200 armband that enabled amputees to control a prosthetic hand, or surgeons to navigate screens while carrying out complicated surgery. In 2016, Thalmic Labs raised a hefty $120 million in funding from Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Intel Capital, and Fidelity Investments Canada, and then rebranded as North in 2018 while simultaneously pivoting to holographic eyewear. North’s first product, Focals, were glasses that connect to the user’s smartphone over Bluetooth to display key notifications directly in the wearer’s field of view, including weather, calendar notifications, messages, turn-by-turn navigation, and more.

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