Bottom line: Smart glasses are still a niche product that are far from perfect, but they are getting a lot better. Focals are the latest pair to try and be a product that can be worn everyday without sticking out like a sore thumb.
Tech giants have been trying to get smart glasses right for years now but nobody seems to be able to build a pair that consumers actually can wear everyday. Issues with appearance, narrow fields of view on integrated displays, and skepticism of privacy over wearable cameras have delayed hopes of truly usable smart glasses.
Focals by North hope are aiming to get past some of the prior hurdles. Instead of standing out as a blatant piece of modern technology, Focals appear to be regular glasses at first glance. Similar to Intel's Vaunt smart glasses that never really made it out of the lab, Focals project an image onto the back of your retina which allows your eyes to remain focuses on distant objects and simultaneously see information sent from your phone over Bluetooth.
These smart glasses can project text messages, driving directions, calendar events, and weather data right to your eyes. You can also call an Uber or make use of Amazon's Alexa assistant. Battery life is good for up to 18 hours which should allow a true full day of use.
A plastic ring with joystick can be worn so that you can navigate the display without having to perform any awkward head movements or directly touching the glasses. The ring is a little large and is not particularly good looking, but this is something that could be fixed in a future design revision.
Focals arrive in two different frame styles and three colors. Clip-on tinted lenses for conversion to sunglasses are also included if you really need AR sunglasses. At $999 including custom fitting and prescription lenses, these glasses are definitely not cheap. However, given the lack of better solutions, it is a reasonably fair price for early adopters.