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Google Glass Wayfarers? Google partners with Ray-Ban maker to bring Glass to the masses

Google's wearable computer has been having a tough time gaining mainstream credibility but a new partnership with Luxottica aims to fix this
  • @jjvincent

Google has announced a new partnership with the Luxottica Group, the largest glasses company in the world responsible for brands including Ray-Ban, Oakley, Giorgio Armani and Prada.

The news is the biggest step in Google’s attempts to push its wearable computer into the mainstream. Earlier this year it introduced prescription frames for the technology, launching four new styles aimed at attracting more ‘casual’ users.

The Glass technology is still yet to go on general sale in the US or the UK, but has been put into the hands of enthusiasts; the ‘Glass Explorers’ who pay $1,500 to test out the device.

Despite this cautious approach to the product, Google has faced consistent criticism from members of the public, many of whom believe that Glass’s capacity to record videos and photos inconspicuously is a danger to privacy.

Google has tried to head off some of these troubles by issuing advice to their less socially-aware users (the key bit of advice: ‘Don’t be a glasshole’), but Glass’s image is in danger of being tarnished by its association with a particular class of young and monied individual in America.

One incident in February highlighted the problem when a Google Glass wearer reported being “robbed and assaulted” in a San Francisco bar by “haters”. Sarah Slocum, a self-professed social media, said that patrons in the bar became hostile after mistakenly thinking that she was recording them. Slocum later uploaded footage of the incident she had recorded with Glass to YouTube.

Google’s new partnership with Luxottica will allow the internet giant to start developing Ray-Ban and Oakley frames for Glass. The Milan-based eyewear company will manufacture the frames and direct wholesale and retail sales of them.

“Luxottica understands how to build, distribute and sell great products that their clients and consumers love – something we care deeply about at Glass, too,” said Google in a statement announcing the partnership.

“When the first eyeglasses appeared in the 13th century, they took off and over the next 700 years, they evolved over and over, with the first bifocals appearing in the 18th century, and the monocle and sunglasses shortly after.

“We see Glass as the next chapter in this long story. Light, simple and modular, Glass introduces new functionality as your glasses get smarter.”