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Cool, who here has tried Focals by North? I was thinking of getting them for everyday walking around and reading. My problem is I still don't understand what the interface is like. Can it project a screen to it or not? I'm perfectly happy to see a translucent IDE/browser window in my field of view.





Getting them now is probably not a good idea, because:

> The first-gen North Focals glasses won't work after July 31, 2020, but North is issuing refunds to people who bought the smartglasses

https://support.bynorth.com/hc/en-us/articles/360045128691


When will people learn to not buy hardware that needs cloud support to function

At least they are giving out refunds, unlike other companies that have shutdown, but still.

Things like this is why I am a firm member of the selfhosted club


The 6th time it happens to them, as long as self hosting is easier

They had something on their website about a gen 2 coming out this year. Maybe that's not the case anymore?

From the link I posted:

> We will not be shipping Focals 2.0, but we hope you will continue the journey with us as we start this next chapter.


Cool, thanks, I hadn't been there in a while

I tried them at a pop-up the company had in SF; it was an awful experience. The employees of the pop up didn't know how to use the product, when they brought out a pair that fit my (very normal) face, I could barely see the screen on it, the interface was weird (there is a ring that you wear) and it was very buggy with ios (heard it was better with android). They said I would need to buy a pair for it to fit me and me to be able to see the screen. I was really ready for smart glasses but I can't imagine that anyone would be ready to fork over $1k for something that you can't really try out.

"I can't imagine that anyone would be ready to fork over $1k for something that you can't really try out"

That's pretty much what the normal experience is for buying prescription glasses. You try on the frame to see if it is comfortable, but you can't try out the prescription in the frame until a week after you have ordered them.


I tried them at a promo event. They had to be sized for your head/eyes, so the demo glasses had to be held in a particular way to see the screen.

They were alright. The frames were reminiscent of big hipster frames, which I don't like, but they weren't outrageous. The visible area was small and neat, but I couldn't see any use for it. Probably the size of an apple watch, just floating in the corner of your right eye. The demo was walking directions and talking to alexa. They didn't sell because they weren't very useful and were very expensive.

Maybe Google's current strategy is the correct one - keep developing the tech for well-scoped, very niche applications until some day the tech might be good enough for general purpose applications. I think that day is still far away.


The screen was meh, but I thought the real innovation was that it was controlled by a ring worn on the pointer finger that was manipulated with the thumb. Aesthetically, it looked fairly normal, but it had a joystick on it to control the screen [1]. With iterations it could have been something that blended in as jewelry, yet was useful for interfacing. The real innovation was that you didn't have to raise your hand to your temple to manipulate it or use voice commands.

I think a big issue with wearable computers will be input devices. I have trained with the 1-handed chorded keyboards, such as the twiddler, and am up to 30 wpm, but its not easy and I don't think people will be willing to make that kind of adjustment. Even so, you still have to then constantly carry the input device around and have it in your hand. A "hands free" input device like the ring, or an improved Myo style band, will still be needed for any wearable that is used in a non-private setting, where voice commands are not ideal (unless its a throat mic).

[1] Pic of ring controller via gizmodo https://o.aolcdn.com/images/dimse/5845cadfecd996e0372f/94746...


I have a pair that I hadn't picked up for a year before two weeks ago when I charged, updated, and tried them out again to see if anything had changed.

The interface is roughly 6 lines of white on transparent text/menus/icons, with some "apps" occasionally being more graphical and having larger graphics/arrows. The display is basically a bunch of low power lasers being projected onto a weird thing embedded in the glass of the right lens and getting reflected into your eye. If alignment was wrong it couldn't do anything. It felt more like those vector CRT displays like from an old arcade game, where instead of pixels of varying intensity in a grid there is an electron beam just drawing lines and simple shapes.

There was definitely no ability to project a screen. It was not like google glass at all.

Platform-wise, it was more like an imaginary gen-0.5 smartwatch that was locked into a handful of baked in apps and notifications. It had to be tethered to your phone to work. It could only integrate with select apps and services: Spotify for music, Alexa for a voice assistant, gcal for calendar. I'm probably missing some.

It had some morning glance sort of thing that showed you your commute and the weather and maybe some news?

It had it's own walking navigation system that worked... okay. Granted I tried that out pretty shortly after that feature launched, and only used in Dublin when I was on a trip where I would actually be walking a fair bit. It never inspired confidence that it would notify me properly of a turn, and I tend to not really need directions shown to me all the time anyways, so I stopped bothering after using it twice.

Notifications was about the only thing I got out of it when I was using it, and it was not the best experience. The time between knowing I got a notification and it showing me was long enough that I never got over the muscle memory of either pulling out my phone or looking at my pebble (if I was wearing it) when I felt the vibrarion from either.

That brings me to the hardest part for me, the lack of confidence in the projection. When I pressed on the ring controller to activate it, or heard a sound indicating something should be on screen, I couldn't be sure that it wasn't just being slow or if it was somehow misaligned. It got misaligned often, and when it's not in just the right alignment with your eye the display is not visible. I eventually got some of those silicone things you put on stems to hold glasses on your face properly and even then they could still get out of alignment.

EDIT: totally forgot, a cool part was how you contorlled it, with a ring that had a little 5way joystick on it. This would have been cool if it was more responsive, but it suffered from the general interface sluggishness that did not inspire confidence.




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