Google buys smart glasses startup North

The tech giant is looking to add more to its 'ambient technology' portfolio

Google has acquired North, an eight-year-old startup that specialises in computer interfaces and smart glasses.

The value of the deal was not disclosed but the Globe and Mail suggested the price could be around $180 million when it first reported interest from Google.

The tech giant was an early pioneer in computerised glasses and augmented reality, launching Google Glass in 2012. The product hasn't brought in much success though, with its initial high price and surrounding privacy concerns putting consumers off.

Despite this, Google is still committed to improving its glass tech and building on its 'ambient technology' portfolio. 

"We're building towards a future where helpfulness is all around you, where all your devices just work together and technology fades into the background. We call this ambient computing," Google senior VP of devices & services, Rick Osterloh, wrote in a blog post.

"North's technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future. They'll join the Google team based in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada - North's hometown and an area with impressive tech talent."

North was founded in 2012 as Thalmic Labs, a startup that developed technology that "becomes an invisible, helpful part of our everyday experience". Its early products included 'Myo', a gesture-based input device that directly converted neuro-muscular impulses into signals computers could understand. 

"Over the last while, it became clear that aligning with Google would significantly advance our shared vision," the company's founders wrote. "This acquisition is a terrific fit for North and, importantly, we're staying here in Kitchener-Waterloo. 

"We're proud to have grown our company in the Kitchener-Waterloo region and are thankful for the tremendous support we've received from the community. We are looking forward to remaining in the region with Google."  

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