SAN FRANCISCO – Google is hoping to make its Internet-connected eyewear more stylish as part of a partnership with the makers of Ray-Ban and Oakley frames.
The alliance with Italian eyewear company Luxottica Group announced Monday represents Google’s latest attempt to make wearable technology look less geeky as it tries to develop new ways to ensure people can stay connected to the Internet wherever they go. Last week, Google disclosed that fashion accessory maker Fossil Group is working on an Internet-connected wristwatch that runs Google’s Android software for mobile devices.
Luxottica will develop frames equipped with Google Glass, a computing device that includes a thumbnail-sized screen above the wearer’s right eye to view Internet content. The $1,500 gadget also includes a camera that can take hands-free pictures and video, a feature that has raised privacy concerns.
Google Inc. so far has only sold Glass to a select group of test subjects known as “Explorers,” who have frequently been mocked for wearing a piece of futuristic eyewear that looks better-suited for cyborgs than for humans.
Luxottica is expected to help broaden Glass’ appeal. Google is also planning to tap into the more than 5,000 stores that Luxottica runs in the U.S. to help sell Glass once the device is released on the general market.
Google still hasn’t spelled out when Glass will be broadly available, although the Mountain View, Calif., company is still aiming for later this year.
More than 10,000 people have bought Glass as part of the Explorer program.
In another move to make Glass more practical, Google in January unveiled four frame styles that could also be outfitted with prescription lenses. Those frames cost an additional $225.
The prices for Luxottica’s line-up of Google Glass products won’t be announced until they are closer to going on sale. Besides Ray-Ban and Oakley, Luxottica’s other brands include Vogue-Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Alain Mikli and Arnette.