According to reports out of Italy, Google has bee working with eyewear maker Luxottica to come up with a new version of Glass, its glasses-meet-webcam-meet-smartphone project. The news adds further weight to suggestion the project isn’t truly dead.
The search titan killed off the first version of Glass in January after the unpopular program started slipping sideways. The glasses, much like most of Google’s businesses, raised significant privacy concerns. It was also seen as being unfashionable.
In March Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt, insisted his company hadn’t thrown in the towel on the head-mounted computer, hinting at a second version of Glass.
Luxottica’s CEO Massimo Vian was quoted on Thursday saying that his company will build the second coming of Glass. The Italian company controls the majority of the world’s eyewear market, including the Ray-Ban and Oakley brands.
“What you saw was version 1. We’re now working on version 2, which is in preparation,” he said at his company’s annual general meeting “In Google, there are some second thoughts on how to interpret version 3 [of the eyewear].”
Vian and other senior Luxottica officials have visited the Glass team in California and work is progressing on the next model. He declined to give a timeline for a release, but Google’s I/O developer conference in May might be a good time to reveal a prototype.
Vian also announced a new development deal Luxottica has inked with Intel though he declined to say exactly what the two companies are working on. He did however set a reveal date of February or March next year. Given the Luxottica only makes eyewear it stands to reason the Intel project is along the same lines as Glass.
The partnerships make sense for Luxottica as regular glasses haven’t changed much in design or capabilities in the last 100 years.
It remains to be seen, crucially, if the technology can be unobtrusive. Google admitted this week that Glass was a privacy failure, but gave no suggestions as to how this issue might be alleviated.
Head mounted computers with cameras on them tend to make people assume they are being recorded because in theory they very well can be. Yet removing a camera makes the devices considerably less useful.
It also remains to be seen whether glasses will become the sort of trend that smartphones have become. They do less yet are obtrusive to the face. If you don’t have to wear glasses would you wear them for some technological benefit?
The jury is decidedly out on both issues.
The fixation on Glass highlights the lengths Google is going to in order to find another business as profitable as its search engine. As profits decline at its core business the company is increasingly flailing around trying to find the next big thing.
The jury is decidedly our on that issue too.