With the first pop-up showroom for North's Focals smartglasses opening its doors next week, customers are now able to purchase the smartglasses at a drastically lower price tag.
On Thursday, the company set a new pricing structure for its smartglasses. Originally priced at $999, the base model of Focals in a black finish are now available with non-prescription frames starting at $599. Also new this week from North are prescription frames, which start at $799.
In addition to the base frames, customers can opt for round frames, alternate colors (Tortoise and Grey Fade), or premium lenses for a $100 extra charge per customization.
The company has also revealed the opening date and location of its first temporary store, which will arrive at IMWest in Seattle on Feb. 19. The touring retail shop will then travel south to San Francisco, although a specific schedule for the Bay Area shop hasn't been confirmed.
As previously announced, the showroom tour will also hit other cities throughout North America.
"Our Showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto have been a great starting place, but we've had a lot of demand outside of those markets. With our new Pop-up Showroom, we'll be able to bring Focals to potential customers all across North America," said Stephen Lake, CEO and co-founder of North, in a statement. "We're starting with Seattle and the Bay Area, but will be expanding beyond there soon. Stay tuned."
The pop-up stores will accept walk-ins, but appointments are limited and customers are encouraged to book a reservation ahead of time to ensure service.
To date, Focals have only been available through its New York and Toronto showrooms because the smartglasses require personal fittings. Each pair is then custom-fit for customers to pick up at a later date.
According to a company spokesperson, North is dropping the price of Focals to bring the cost closer to customers' expectations for standard eyewear. By moving to a lower base price, customers will have more flexibility with regard to add-on upgrades to the final product. As such, the new price will likely attract customers who find the original price a bit too extravagant for the limited AR functionality, just as the company's retail roadshow will help it move units outside of its two launch cities.
The price cut also makes Focals a bit more competitive with similar devices like the Blade by Vuzix.
Both brands offer users a transparent heads-up display for notifications for weather, limited interaction with apps for messaging, navigation, and ride-sharing, as well as voice-activated assistance via Amazon Alexa. However, for the same $999 price, the Blade device includes a camera for photos and video.
With starker contrasts between North Focals and Vuxiz Blade in form, function, price, and sales model (brick-and-mortar versus online sales), it will be interesting to see which blend of options attracts more customers.