Introducing Focals by North

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Focals & Loop in the “Classic Frame / Grey Fade”

Five years ago we quietly began a journey to accomplish three things:

  1. Make a pair of smart glasses look like regular glasses.
  2. Create an experience on them that is useful and intuitive, not overwhelming or distracting.
  3. Build a different kind of company to make the above possible.

Today, we’re introducing Focals as the first public step of that journey.

Focals are stylish smart glasses with a transparent, full-color display that connects you to the things you care about. You can go here to learn more about them and pre-order a pair.

Focals began with the belief…


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The Myo Gesture Control Armband

A few years ago, as we were finishing up our final exams at the University of Waterloo, Aaron, Matthew and I got into a discussion about the evolution of human-computer interaction (as mechatronics engineers do after a couple drinks).

In that conversation, we hypothesized that technology would move out of discrete “boxes” and into our world, becoming more tightly coupled with our daily lives. Somewhere along that line of reasoning, one of us posed the question: If we’re taking technology with us out into the world, how will we interact with it?

A Path Forward

Even back then there were…


Introducing our new headquarters at 27 Gaukel St.

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It’s been nearly six years since Matt, Aaron and I first began work on Thalmic in 2012. Much of that time has felt like a whirlwind: developing technology, announcing a product, bringing it to market, and building an amazing team.


Improved access to specialized talent is critical for the success of Canadian startups

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Thalmic employees working in our manufacturing facility in Waterloo.

Since taking office in November, President Trump has shifted the United States’ focus inward — tightening its borders and pursuing “America-first” policies that limit the budget for innovation programs. We’ve seen these shifts come to life in the form of several highly-publicized initiatives:

  1. Plans to scrap the ‘startup visa’ rule that helps foreign entrepreneurs start companies in the U.S.
  2. New rules and criteria for the popular H1-B visa that may make it more difficult for skilled immigrant workers to get jobs in the U.S.
  3. The infamous travel…


The ingredients are in place: Time to step up.

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“The thing is, there’s no easy way to do this. No simple way to quiet the noise in your head, no proven method to earn the respect and applause of your family and friends, no guaranteed approach that’s going to insulate you from heartache.

This might not work.

It might not be fun.

I hope you’ll do it anyway.”

Seth Godin, from What To Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn)

The Toronto-Waterloo corridor is having a moment. On the Waterloo end, one only needs to take a…


Making Innovation Possible Through Diversity

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Over the weekend President Trump issued an executive order barring entry to the United States for the next 90 days to citizens from seven predominantly-Muslim countries. The number of citizens directly affected within those countries exceeds 130 million, but the potential true cost of this action goes far beyond numbers — global progress is at stake.

We live in a globalized world. With each new day, we are more connected than we have ever been. This connectivity has led to diversity of thought through the free flow of ideas. However, being connected and being together aren’t the same thing. …


When it comes to wearables, meaningful innovation just isn’t happening.

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Las Vegas, Home to CES (photo: LVCVA)

Each year CES delivers new categories of what I call “smartables.”

Recent years have illustrated this concept, as 2015 was the year of the smartwatch, 2016 the year of smartclothing, and 2017 is on its way to being the year of the “hearable.” And within a few years we’ll be able to put the capability of a smartphone almost anywhere on the human body. But is all this innovation really necessary? At some point, it starts to feel like technology for the sake of technology. …


Don’t leave Toronto-Waterloo expecting a higher quality of life in the Bay Area.

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Downtown Kitchener (photo: Matthew Smith)

Each year, like clockwork, I observe the mass exodus of highly-skilled engineering and computer science students from the Kitchener-Waterloo area. Their reasons for leaving are varied: the allure of joining exciting technology companies, the promise of higher pay, and for those heading to Bay Area the balmy California weather can’t be dismissed.

Looking out Thalmic’s Charles St. window on a less-than-balmy December day here in Waterloo, I can’t dispute the weather. However, the Toronto-Waterloo corridor has an incredible amount of momentum right now. Around me, I see a region with the second highest density of startups in the world continuing…


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Superpowers, here we come.

Today, we’re excited to announce our $120M USD Series B Funding led by Intel Capital, The Amazon Alexa Fund, and Fidelity Investments Canada, with participation from existing investors including Spark Capital. This new investment will help us realize our vision for the next era of computing, where the lines between humans and digital technology become increasingly blurred.

We’ve been reimagining human-computer interaction since we first created the Myo armband in 2012 and are proud of what the team at Thalmic has accomplished to date. With Myo, we built an entirely new type of sensor from the…

Stephen Lake

Co-founder of North. I like to build things.

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