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North Begins Shipping Focals and Announces Pop-Up Expansions

Last October, North (formerly Thalmic Labs) announced their ambitious wearables play, Focals.

Today, the Waterloo-based company has officially shipped their first pair of Focals and outlined plans to expand their market reach well beyond the two areas North currently operates in. Focals are a sleek wearable that is controlled via a ring-like device called Loop, allowing users to interact with Alexa, get directions, and even order an Uber.

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A model sporting a pair of Focals as well as Loop.

The first pairs of Focals have been shipped to North’s showrooms in Toronto and Brooklyn, and the first customers will have to stop by the storefront to have one final fitting before they can take (or wear) the next-gen wearable home.

So far, the response to the custom-designed fitting process for Focals has been “overwhelmingly positive,” according to Aaron Grant, a co-founder of North. Customers had to enter a special booth and have their head sized by 11 different cameras, a process Grant said North could patent and sell on its own.

“Understandably our customers have a lot of questions, but the showrooms have been an amazing way to actually put Focals in their hands and let them experience what they’re like for themselves,” says Grant. “I can’t wait to see the first pair of Focals out in the wild.”

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Everything that is included with a pair of Focals.

Until now, potential Focals buyers had to visit a showroom in either Brooklyn or Toronto to purchase the wearable, as the fitting process was very specific and North did not want to compromise quality for accessibility. Starting in April, North will hit the road and open pop-up shops in major North American cities. Specific details have yet to be announced, but the fitting experience will mimic the current one offered in the two existing showrooms.

“Our flagship showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto have been a great start for us,” says Grant. “They introduced our brand and have been critical to helping us make our mark in two of our top cities. However, we’re getting demand from around North America that we want to capture. The pop-up model will let us take Focals to people that otherwise might never have been able to try them. It’s going to be an exciting couple of months.”

About a month after North unveiled Focals, they received a $24 million investment from the Canadian government’s Strategic Innovation Fund. That money went towards bolstering the company’s manufacturing facilities, located entirely in Waterloo.

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