Google just signed the deal that could allow its Glass wearable computing device to go mainstream. The company has announced a partnership with Luxottica, the eyewear manufacturer behind a host of brands including Ray-Ban and Oakley, to design and produce an exclusive collection of eyeglass frames that incorporate the technology. To start, the deal will be limited to the US market, and focus on Ray-Ban and Oakley. According to a Luxottica press release, the first collection will "combine high-end technology with avant-garde design offering the best in style, quality, and performance."
"You're not going to see Glass on your favorite Oakleys or Ray-Bans tomorrow"
According to a Google-provided FAQ, design will be a joint effort between Luxottica and Google, while Luxottica will handle manufacturing and distribution. The FAQ doesn't say, however, when the resulting new versions of Google Glass might hit the market. It might not be anytime soon: "You're not going to see Glass on your favorite Oakleys or Ray-Bans tomorrow, but today marks the start of a new chapter in Glass's design," reads a Google+ post.
In January, Google began offering the first Google Glass frames that could take prescription lenses. While the company was long rumored to be working with eyewear startup Warby Parker on designer frames, it turned out that Google had designed the four prescription frames itself. Now, it seems that Google has managed to ink a far greater deal for the future of the wearable. According to The Wall Street Journal, Luxottica is not only the single largest eyewear manufacturer with 12.4 percent marketshare, it controls LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut, which will allow it to sell Google Glass in over 5,000 retail stores. That could dovetail nicely with another deal between Google and vision insurance provider VSP, which will reimburse members a portion of the price based on their prescription.
It was reported that Google's massive floating mystery barge at San Francisco's Treasure Island might be a floating retail store for Google Glass and other products. That might still be true, but it looks like Google won't necessarily need such a place to sell Glass-equipped eyewear to the public.