Wearers Of North’s AR Glasses Can Now Get Android Alerts

North Focals Smart glasses AR Android

North rolled out a new update for its Focals augmented reality (AR) glasses that now supports Android notifications, The Verge reported on Friday (Aug. 30).

Similar to Google Glass, North’s smart glasses let Android users access any actions in their phone’s notification center, like answering emails and retweeting. Another new feature lets users get baseball play-by-play updates. 

The $599 custom glasses already have Alexa built in and the ability to call an Uber. The new features are only available to Android users. There is still little support for iOS apps, the report said.

To access the new feature, Android users have to click the “Experiments” section of the Focals app. Clicking a notification once expands it. Clicking again allows the user to access any available actions, North said in a press release on its website. Users can also archive items, send smart replies, or use their voice. There is no touch screen or keyboard required.

Google Glass launched in 2013 but the expensive device was glitchy, had a short battery life and was often described as dorky looking. There were also privacy concerns. Ultimately, Google Glass was quietly abandoned by Google.

Focals are custom measured so they work appropriately for their wearer and feel like “a normal pair of glasses,” Alexander Ingram, head of communications for North, said in a report back in January, soon after the company introduced the smart glasses. They are designed to look and feel exactly like a pair of regular glasses and don’t come with a touchpad or camera. The projector is mostly hidden behind the right-hand lens, onto which it projects the Focals user interface.

The experience of using the screen in the smart glasses has been compared to the display of a car dashboard and the graphics do not appear immediately in front of the users’ eyes but give the impression of floating in space about 2 feet from the users, according to that report. Alert flashes are fast, a few seconds at most, enough to make the wearer aware without being a hindrance.