Many consider Google Glass smart eyewear to be cool technically, but fashion-wise -- not so much. Although Google has already been making moves to correct that oversight (pun intended), news released Monday via the Wall Street Journal goes still further: Italian eyewear maker Luxottica, which owns the well-known Ray-Ban and Oakley sunglass brands, said that it had agreed to design, develop and distribute versions of Google's smart eyewear.
In 2012, a report said that Oakley was working on Google Glass-like smart eyewear.
The plan has apparently been in the works for some time. In an interview, Andrea Guerra, chief executive of Luxottica said that the two companies began working together last year. He added,
Google has opened up a new potential opportunity of use of glasses.
In a separate press release, Guerra said:
We live in a world where technological innovation has dramatically changed the way in which we communicate and interact in everything that we do. More importantly, we have come to a point where we now have both a technology push and a consumer pull for wearable technology products and applications. Seeing such a future, over the last years, Luxottica invested heavily in building-out our technology platforms and digital solutions to combine with our products excellence.
We believe that a strategic partnership with a leading player like Google is the ideal platform for developing a new way forward in our industry and answering the evolving needs of consumers on a global scale. We believe it is high time to combine the unique expertise, deep knowledge and quality of our Group with the cutting edge technology expertise of Google and give birth to a new generation of revolutionary devices.
J.P. Gownder, an analyst at Forrester Research who studies wearable-computing devices said the deal is huge for Google:
Partnering with Luxottica is a huge coup for Google. In one fell swoop, Google could get Glass in front of tens or hundreds of millions of consumers in an eyewear-appropriate setting.
It's unclear when Google Glass eyewear will ship from Ray-Ban or Oakley, but Guerra said Oakley and Ray-Ban designers (among others) have been working with Google in an attempt to develop versions that that incorporate Google Glass technology in a less obvious manner. It's also unclear how much the new versions will cost. Currently Google Glass "starts" at $1,500.
As consumer sales of Google Glass -- expected late this year -- continues to approach, Google has recently undertaken a campaign to demystify and reduce the Google Glass hate that has led to incidents such as a woman being attack in an SF bar for wearing the device.