Google to brick smart glasses a month after buying company

In yet another example of smart devices being rendered dumb for ‘business’ reasons (see previously), maker of smart glasses, North, has announced that it’s ending all support for it’s $600 glasses one month after its acquisition by Google.

From North’s website:

Focals smart glasses and its services are being discontinued and will no longer be available after July 31st, 2020. You won’t be able to connect your glasses through the app or use any features, abilities, or experiments from your glasses.

Vice has the story:

While owners of the soon-to-be-obsolete devices are entitled to a refund, this kind of ‘change of plan’ obsolescence is beginning to feel like an increasingly common pattern. I’m wondering how the Right to Repair can incorporate software longevity to preempt more of this kind of thing…

R2R or, more fundamentally, R2M (Right to Maintain) could incorporate s/w longevity but there’s a more fundamental problem here:
the glasses almost certainly aren’t a smart device, they’re mostly an I/O device for a service and that service is being turned off.

You can’t stop someone switching a service off, but maybe you can mandate mitigation…

What we need here is R2C: Right to Configure, i.e. open and/or configurable firmware/software, because the glasses will almost certainly have the server’s details baked into them, rather than being configurable.
If the s/w/f/w was configurable, people could run up a replacement service.

Minor thought:
it’s possible that someone could do for North 1.0 what Rebble did for Pebble, if it turns out that the config in the glasses is flashable or that it communicates through a (hackable or replaceable) app. :smiley:


Thanks for this breakdown Dave, nicely put!
It would certainly be interesting to see whether any North owners explore ‘Rebblising’ their devices

So does the refund require return of the glasses or can you get the refund against a receipt and keep the glasses (I’m thinking free junk to try and hack and report back :wink: :wink:)

Ha! Good question, not sure - I can’t find any on Ebay…
Do let us know if you track down a pair!