March 25, 2014
Google To Partner With Luxottica For New Glass Styles
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Google Glass has been limited to an elite set of early adopters who plunked down about $2,000, but the wearable device is getting ready for public consumption with a design and distribution deal with Luxottica Group. The eyewear brand boasts both stores and eyewear brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue-Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Alain Mikli and Arnett. The partnership was announced on the Google Glass page on Google+.
Glass has been embraced by early adopters, however there have been comments that the wearable is "geeky" or simply "geek chic," requiring some new designs when the coveted wearable becomes available for the mainstream. A refresh occurred in January, when Google introduced a number of new styles, including prescription lenses and titanium frames. The announcement also included an agreement with vision-care company VSP Global, for the prescription lens styles. Now the computing eyewear will get another injection of style, but Google still hasn't set a date to expand past the "Explorer" or early adopter contingent.
"Luxottica understands how to build, distribute and sell great products that their clients and consumers love – something we care deeply about at Glass, too. They’ll bring design and manufacturing expertise to the mix, and, together, we’ll bring even more Glass style choices to our Explorers. In addition, Luxottica’s retail and wholesale distribution channels will serve us well when we make Glass available to more people down the road," it said on the Google+ post.
Eyewear designs infusing Glass with styles in the Oakley, Ray-Ban or other Luxottica lines are still some time away. The brand has yet to collaborate with Google to start developing designs that will mix style with the functionality that Glass offers.
Luxottica will design, develop and distribute stylish version of Google Glass, the Wall Street Journal's Rolfe Winkler. The article calls Luxottica a powerful ally in the "fight to make Google Glass cool."
While there has been a great deal of attention for Google Glass, it remains to be seen now many people will actually purchase and wear the connected eyewear.
"With Luxottica's help, Google hopes to use style to overcome consumer doubts about Glass. Astro Teller, who oversees Glass among other projects at Google X, the company's innovation lab, said it is a 'very large hump' to convince people to wear computers on their face. 'This is a fashion problem as much as it is a technology problem,' he said," Winkler wrote.
As news of the partnership made its rounds on Tuesday, Luxottica shares increased sharply, according to Reuters. The Italian luxury eyewear brand's shares opened more than 3 percent up in the morning, above the 1 percent rise in Italy's FTSE MIB blue-chip stock index.
While Google has been the leader in the eyewear wearables market, new competition is in view. Epiphany Eyewear, which had a Kickstarter project about two years ago, has been in the news this week. The new model is less noticeable than Google Glass, as the camera and functionality is built into traditional frames, USA Today reports.
Luxottica and its brands can lend their design to help correct this issue, and make glasses more stylish as well as more natural. Though that might not entirely be the goal for Google, the AFP news agency reports.
"If someone wants to secretly record you, there are much, much better cameras out there than one you wear conspicuously on your face and that lights up every time you give a voice command, or press a button," Google was quoted as saying by AFP.