Will Google-Luxottica deal take "smart glasses" mainstream?

By Peter Gothard
25 Mar 2014 View Comments
google-luxottica

Google has announced a strategic partnership with Ray-Ban and Oakley sunglasses manufacturer Luxottica that could potentially see Google Glass technology available on the high street.

"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," said Luxottica CEO Andrea Guerra.

Further reading

On its Glass page on Google+, Google admitted that while "you're not going to see Glass on your favorite Oakleys or Ray-Bans tomorrow", the announcement definitely "marks the start of a new chapter in Glass's design".

Google said Luxottica "understands how to build, distribute and sell great products that their clients and customers love".

The 10,000 prototype Google Glass headsets that the company has released so far have largely ended up on the heads of technology journalists, enthusiasts and "geeks".

While Google calls users of Google Glass "explorers", debunkers of the device - which has been criticised for anything from having a short battery life to enabling users to secretly spy on people - have begun referring to them as "Glassholes".

Test units currently cost $1,500, and have been available since April 2013, but at that time Google stated that a mass-produced consumer version would appear in 2014. The deal with Luxottica may pave the way to this.

Google Glass is currently banned in US states Delaware, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Wyoming, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, over concerns that the device could be used to secretly film people, or even distract users while driving.

A woman in San Francisco was attacked in February 2014 in what she called a "hate crime", believing she was targeted simply because she was wearing the device, her assailants telling her she was "killing the city".

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