April 29, 2015
This time last year, Google (GOOG) secured a deal with Italian eyewear maker Luxottica, which owns the popular Oakley and Ray Ban brands among others, to help design, manufacture and distribute frames for the Internet-connected Glass wearable.
The arrangement was intended to help blunt the impression that Glass is a niche product only for techies and to give life to its appeal to consumers. But we all know that didn’t go so well, made clear when Google shuttered the Glass Explorer program earlier this year to head back to the drawing board to find designs better suited to consumers.
Now, the partners may be closer than expected to delivering a new version of Glass. Massimo Vian, Luxottica chief executive, reportedly told attendees at the company’s general meeting in Milan, Italy that a new version of Glass is on the way, the Wall Street Journal said.
Vian didn’t offer any details on a new Glass design, features, pricing, or availability.
“In Google, there are some second thoughts on how to interpret version 3 [of the eyewear],” Vian told shareholders. “What you saw was version 1. We’re now working on version 2, which is in preparation.”
A Google spokeswoman told the Journal that the Glass “team is heads down building the future of the product,” but refused further comment.
Vian is said to have met recently with the new Glass team still headed by Ivy Ross but under the direction of former Nest co-founder Tony Fadell after its relocation from the Google X research lab of its origin.
Ross said earlier this year that the updated Glass version will feature a longer battery life, better sound and a sharper display, and will cost less than the $1,500 Google tagged onto the original model.
Google isn’t Luxottica’s only prominent IT partner for wearables. Last December, Intel (INTC) signed a multi-year research and development collaboration with Luxottica to deliver a range of smart, fashion-conscious eyewear.
Vian said that the first products from the partnership are slated to hit the market in about a year.
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