Google Partners with Ray-Ban/Oakley for the Future of Glass

by Matt Klassen on April 27, 2015

Google Glass is not dead, far from it in fact, as reports indicate a more consumer friendly version of Google’s eyewear project is already in the works, and this time the company will make a concerted effort to overcome the barriers that hampered societal integration, adoption, and acceptance the first time around.

Taking a page from Apple, who plumbed the fashion industry when it hired its head of retail last year, Google has partnered with Italian eyewear maker Luxottica, the parent company of two of America’s most recognized names in eyewear, Ray-Ban and Oakley. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Luxottica CEO Massimo Vian said his company is working closely with Google on the new eyewear project, noting that it will be coming soon.

While the inglorious exit of Google Glass earlier this year had many speculating whether Google would be abandoning the project, two things were abundantly clear to me: First, Google Glass was the future of eyewear, a perfect embodiment of everything science fiction has told us our future will look like. Second, Google Glass was far too, well, technological for mass adoption, meaning that in order to take the project to the next level Google would have to embrace the fashion industry like Apple before it. Now we’ll get to see what the future of connected eyewear will really look like…and whether fashion can make technology ‘cool.’

Bulky, nerdy, intrusive, and elitist: That’s how the first iteration of Google Glass was received, a device so off-putting that early adopters were dubbed ‘glassholes’ for their boorish and meddling behaviour while using the device. Given the growing public resistance to the notion of wearing a constantly connected computer on their face, in January Google discontinued the current version of Glass, moving the project out of its research and development division and putting it under the purview of the company’s smart-home subsidiary Nest.

At the time many wondered what would become of Glass, whether Google would be able to successfully continue project development given the treatment the device received the first time around. But despite speculation that Google had scuttled Glass there were signs that things were simply following their natural evolution course, and with the news this week that Google has been working with eyewear titan Luxottica, it appears that is true.

“In Google, there are some second thoughts on how to interpret version 3 [of the eyewear],” Mr. Vian told shareholders. “What you saw was version 1. We’re now working on version 2, which is in preparation.”

Now Google’s partnership with Luxottica is as much next gen technological development, as all wearable technology going forward will need to effectively marry fashion and function, as it is public relations as well, as what better way to overcome the negative public perception of Google Glass than to slap such connected wearable tech onto our favourite eyewear brands, Ray-Ban and Oakley.

Further, having those two brands on board will give Google access to an incredibly large consumer base, Oakley likely covering the health and fitness market while Ray-Ban covers the general consumer and high end fashion markets. Simply put, whatever success Apple has had by hiring fashion talent to create its Apple Watch, look for Google to match, or likely exceed, that by partnering with the best names in eyewear to create a connected eyewear project that everyone will almost certainly want.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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