Amazon-backed startup launches an AR wearable that looks like regular glasses

Called Focals, the wearable device resembles a pair of thick-rimmed, black hipster glasses.

A Waterloo-based startup backed by Amazon just unveiled a set of augmented reality glasses which look the closest to regular glasses. Heck, we bet you won't be able to tell them apart at first glance.

Called Focals, the wearable device resembles a pair of thick-rimmed, black hipster glasses, but with a microphone, a speaker, a battery and a little projector all hidden inside the frames. Their creator, Thalmic Labs is also planning a change of name to 'North' with the hope that the Focals will transform the company into a "fashion and lifestyle" brand. Does sound like a massive gamble but the Focals are quite interesting.

With no physical screen, the Focals have a holographic style information display system which work with light filtering through to display information. As per a report by Vox, founder Stephen Lake describes the augmented reality glasses as, “a holographic lens that never existed before.”

The Focals look a lot like regular glasses, until you look at them from a side. Image: North

The Focals look a lot like regular glasses, until you look at them from a side. Image: North

The holographic display is also less obtrusive. It is turned off by default and responds only when it has something urgent to tell you, or if you ask it to. The display shows up text notifications right onto one of the lenses and allow users to dictate replies. Users can call an Uber or display turn-by-turn navigation and with Alexa built-in, you can also ask the Focals to give you basic information and even shop on Amazon.

Speaking to the publication North designer Marie Stipancik says, "Digital presence is just as important as physical presence, but we want people to live with their heads up."

However, getting your hands (or heads) on one seems like the most difficult thing ever.

The Focals comes in two styles — angular Classic or the elegant Round. Image: North

The Focals comes in two styles — angular Classic or the elegant Round. Image: North

If you want a pair of Focals, you can go ahead an place a pre-order online, but at the same time you also have to schedule an appointment and have 11 cameras take pictures of your head. Why? Well, the Focals are designed to be part of your life all day hence, what you get is a super-customised product that will fit you perfectly.

The Focals cost $1,299 in Canada and $999 in Brooklyn but you do have to physically go and collect your glasses at the two stores North has so far.

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