The Italian brand Luxottica, who manufacture luxury glass-wear such as Ray- Ban and Oakley, announced yesterday that they are about to collaborate with Google Glass to develop a new kind of eye-wear. Luxottica stated that they would form a partnership with Google to not only engineer and produce the new eye-wear, but they would both be responsible for distributing and marketing the new product.
This is the first time any glass-wear company has been involved in the production alongside Google Glass, and it is thought that this new partnership could set a precedent for a new industry in smart glasses in the future.
At the moment, the way Google Glass works is that it is a small device, the size of a postage stamp, which is affixed to a pair of glasses via the frames. Google Glass is able to access user’s email messages, record video and retrieve information from the web by connecting wirelessly to a user’s mobile phone. With the collaboration of Luxottica, it is believed that the technology involved with Google Glass with now be incorporated into the actual glasses, so that the wearer cannot see it, nor indeed anyone else.
This however, has raised serious privacy issues, as problems could arise with people being unaware that they are being videoed without their knowledge or consent. Before with Google Glass, the device was at least fairly visible and people could either get out of the field of vision, or ask if they were being recorded.
For Luxottica, this is simply the next natural step in the technology’s evolution. Chief executive officer Andrea Guerra said: “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.”
For the moment, the partnership will focus entirely on the U.S market, and will be limited to Ray-Ban and Oakley. And if fans of the luxury brand are worried about the potential aesthetics being compromised, a recent press release from Luxottica should put their minds at rest, as they have promised that the first collection will “combine high-end technology with avant-garde design offering the best in style, quality, and performance” and “you’re not going to see Glass on your favorite Oakleys or Ray-Bans tomorrow but today marks the start of a new chapter in Glass’s design”.
Google Glass are leaving the building, distributing and marketing up to Luxottica whilst they are concentrating on the technology behind the product. And with the luxury brand balancing a portfolio that not only includes Ray-Ban and Oakley but also Vogue-Eye wear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Alain Mikli and Arnette, Google Glass are hoping that further down the line, it’s products are going to be much more mainstream and available to more of the general public.
Not only that but Google Glass have certainly chosen well with Luxottica as they are the largest eye-wear manufacturer, boasting 12.4 percent of the market-share, and they control LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut. This means that potentially, Google Glass products could be sold in over 5,000 retail stores.