Remember Focals? Those high-brow custom-made glasses that appealed to your sense of style offering minimalistic, at times limited AR experience? A few months following their initial release, the Focals price is being mended as the company is opening two pop-up stores. The price of $599 for base model pins Focals glasses below what Vuzix Blade currently cost.
We were surprised initially when North launched Focals back in October. They came out unexpectedly, offering something a little different from what we were, still are, used to. But it came at too dear a price. Not only did they cost an ambitious $999, but you had to go all the way though detailed head measuring process, possible only in Brooklyn or Toronto. Whether the North custom-fit AR glasses were worth the process is an open question, but they are a rather singular product on increasingly crowded AR market. They sport a holographic display that project basic information traditionally received through phones. They are also very stylish to wear, which is the reason alone to consider the purchase.
But not before North addressed the base problems mentioned above. There are two, and both solved. Focals price is being cut down from those hopeful $999 to the respectable $599 for the base model, aka, black rim glasses that come without prescription frames. Users can still get custom-fit ones but now for $799. Extending the range of customizability, North also adds the option of round frames and choosing alternate colors, both at the price $100 each. The Focals price is mended to suit the current market and not deter potential customers who did find the product’s exclusivity appealing but were put off by what limited AR there was at what dear a price.
The other problem was availability, or the extravagant process of acquiring a pair. This will partially be solved by introducing two temporary pop-ups in Seattle and San Francisco respectively. Praising the two stores operating so far, North CEO and co-founder Stephen Lake spoke of the new openings: ‘With our new Pop-up Showroom, we’ll be able to bring Focals to potential customers all across North America’. February 19 is when Seattle IMWest gets the nod, and apparently that’s just the beginning: ‘We are starting with Seattle and the Bay Area, but will be expanding beyond there soon. Stay tuned’, Lake said. North is still retaining a certain level of exclusivity to their stores however, as booking a visit is the way to pay it. Casual walk-in visitors there to satisfy curiosity will still be admitted though.
Following the Focals price cut, it will be interesting to follow how will the brand fare in the AR market. Moreover, it will worthwhile to measure it up against the similarly priced Vuzix Blade, an AR eyewear device that offers more functionality sacrificing the element of style. It should tell us a lot about where the consumer interest is lying, and frame the future form vs. function Augmented Reality glasses debate.