Google has signed a deal with Luxottica, the maker of Ray-Ban and Oakley sunglasses, in order to design and manufacture what both parties are calling a "new breed" of eyewear for Google Glass.
In other words, Google wants to make its smart specs cool as well as smart.
Both smartwatches and Glass have faced one major barrier when it comes to the consumer market – namely that they're inherently geeky devices, which make you look geeky. Indeed, Glass makes you look like you're on an apprentice scheme for the Borg, or something.
This move shows how serious Google is about pushing its Glass device for the mainstream. While the smartwatch now seems to be coming of age in fashion terms with slicker devices like the Moto 360 having just been unveiled, Glass could do the same with this Luxottica partnership.
Luxottica notes that the partnership will be an extensive affair, and the company will be working with Google on multiple products which are "high-fashion" as well as high-tech. At this stage, though, no details are being given about exactly where these products are going, or what they'll look like – all we know is that the Ray-Ban and Oakley brands will both be involved.
Obviously, it's likely that the designs will want to minimise the Geeky Borg aspect, perhaps finding a way to better hide the small display in the corner. That in itself, though, could raise further potential privacy issues – which Google's specs have seen plenty of already – as a better disguised Glass could make folks who already dislike the idea of the device more suspicious that wearers are surreptitiously recording them, and so forth. (At least current Glass wearers are obvious and plainly stand out in a crowd).
Inevitably, though, this is a problem Google will have to face when it tries to push Glass into the mainstream, and that's an issue Mountain View clearly recognises as it's already taking PR measures to attempt to diffuse Glass hatred.
Astro Teller, head of Google X, commented: "Luxottica has built an impressive history over the last 50 years designing, manufacturing and distributing some of the most successful and well-known brands in eyewear today. We are thrilled to be partnering with them as we look to push Glass and the broader industry forward into the emerging smart eyewear market."
How thrilled the public at large will be about the emerging smart eyewear market remains to be seen, though.