Intel announced a new “multiyear R&D collaboration” with Luxottica Group on Wednesday. Luxottica isn’t a household name, but as one of the biggest makers of premium glasses frames — controlling a reported 80 percent of all brands worldwide — if you own a pair of Ray-Bans, Oakleys, or Persols, you already own an example of its products.
It’s an interesting announcement coming a few days after the Wall Street Journal reported that Google is planning to use Intel chips in the next version of Google Glass. If [company]Google[/company] is working with [company]Intel[/company], and Intel is working with [company]Luxoticca[/company], it’s no longer out of the question that versions of Google’s head-worn computer in the near future could look more like a decent pair of sunglasses or eyeglasses.
This isn’t the first time that Luxottica has been officially tied to Google Glass. Back in March, Luxottica announced an agreement with Google to “design, develop, and distribute a new breed of eyewear for Glass” to hit stores in 2015. The Intel partnership also hopes to have a product out in 2015.
But in September, Luxottica founder Leonardo Del Vecchio told the Financial Times that Google Glass would embarrass him if he was “going around with that on my face.” He said that Luxottica can make beautiful frames with Ray-Ban or Oakley branding, but Google needs to “make a step forward” to improve the technology first.
In recent months, there have been murmurs that Google Glass was “dying” in its current form. When its second version does come out, in addition to technological improvements, it will need to improve its style bonafides. The current cyborg-chic look of Google Glass is immediately recognizable, which has led to incidents of conflict and ridicule when worn publicly.
There has been one major Google Glass fashion collaboration, with design house Diane von Furstenberg, but those Glass frames were garish — meant to draw attention, instead of deflecting it away. A subtle integration of Google Glass features into a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarers or Persol 714s could do a lot to introduce wearable computing to a larger market.