You remember the Focals glasses, right, those stylish AR glasses that shoot unassuming holographic images in front of your eyes? The prototype Focals have barely hit the ground and North is already planning the future models. As it turns out,the company has bought out the technology portfolio of Intel’s Vaunt glasses, sadly cancelled. Future Focals will capitalize on more than 600 patents by Intel.

Nothing strange here, as Intel has been among the largest investors into Focals AR. The idea is to merge the two models with North leading the brand, while Intel hits major role in AR in wake of unsuccessful Vaunt glasses spree. It is the ideal partnership from many standpoints, one that no financial terms are known on.

Like all brilliant ones, the idea is simple. Focals glasses are envisioned to limit your phone usage by displaying the needed information (time, direction, etc.) directly into one’s vision path. The screenless holographic display is what makes them special, and the info on screen quite subtle. Also, their biggest drawcard is the looks. Unlike the more robust and techy HoloLens, you actually want to wear Focals AR glasses in public. Each is custom made, and costs a small fortune, $999.

Write Focals read Vaunt. Intel’s unborn AR glasses had the same idea as North’s, only with significantly less success in finding the right partners. Still, the actual development went the distance, Intel has cracked a few codes that are now their intellectual property. Of the two model prototypes, Focals win on decision, having better display and multicolor image. But Intel touched on something that North only grazed over – making the display system as miniature as possible, a very important concept for the very concept of style. It is technology like this that North is after, while Intel is hoping to make the future Focals glasses a kind of spiritual continuation of Intel Vaunt.          

Focals glasses made quite a noise when they were first unveiled. The glasses are available for purchase but only in specialized shops and only after an extensive measuring process required to align projector to specific vision. The idea of course is to go big, ship Focals around, but aside from a formulaic‘very shortly’ no news from North to the question. However, despite acquiring Intel intellectual property (and not having ready-made Focals on hand), North is sticking to the existing model to make its appearance on wider market. North will be implementing the Intel’s patents into future models.

Not only in terms of technological development, but also as a way of safeguarding from lawsuits. As far as anyone knows, North and Intel are the only ones pursuing the same AR glasses part. Acquiring Intel’s patents now is a bulletproof way to avoid what was happening to Facebook lately.

The patents in question are thus unquestionably valuable. They cover multiple major areas such as UI or interaction, including the experimental head gesture systems. As things stand now, Focals glasses hardly check all the utility boxes, its AR is of fairly limited scope, but North is showing some commendable signs of ambition. The company even hints at independent AR glasses. We’ll see.