Google Glass has taken a major step forward in its development this week, as the search giant announces a partnership with the company behind both Oakley and Ray-Ban sunglasses.
The Luxottica Group is the world’s largest eyewear company, controlling some 80% of major glasses and sunglasses brands. The partnership will be crucial for Google, which had so far struggled to show how its head-warn Glass device could look less like a prop from a sci-fi film and more like a pair of conventional glasses.
Announced on its Google+ page, the California company said: “We’ve got some big news to share as we announce today that we have agreed to join forces with Luxottica. The Luxottica Group is a leader in premium, luxury and sports eyewear with over 5,000 optical and sun retail stores in the US and a strong, well-balanced brand portfolio that includes Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue-Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Alain Mikli and Arnette.”
Google says it sees Glass as the next chapter in the life of eyeglasses, which first appeared in the 13th century. Glass features a projector which beams a basic, Android-driven user interface through a prism and into the wearer’s right eye. This can display incoming notifications such as email and text messages, as well as keep the wearer updated on news, weather and more. An integrated camera lets the user take photos and record video from their point of view, and the whole device can be controlled by voice commands.
Earlier this year, Google announced its own set of conventional glasses frames for Glass, but now admits “that’s not enough”.
Google added: “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 [Glass users].”
But Glass still has a long road ahead of it, as Google admits: “You’re not going to see Glass on your favourite Oakleys or Ray-Bans tomorrow, but today marks the start of a new chapter in Glass’s design.”