Can Ray-Ban give Google Glass serious specs appeal?

Google Glass Ray-Bans will be available soon thanks to a new deal - but can they make Google´s hitherto geeky Glass truly fashionable?

26 Mar 2014


It may have been worn by the Big Bang Theory's Kunal Nayyar at the Emmy's but Google Glass has until now been a bit of a fashion fail.

However, a new deal with Ray-Ban maker Luxottica could be set to change that - taking the internet-connected specs beyond the geek world and into the realms of hipster fashion and everyday acceptance.

What is Google Glass?

Google Glass Landscape

Google Glass is a wearable computer built into a spectacle frame that allows users to access email, texts, and the web via voice and physical commands, as well as shooting photos and videos.  

It wraps around your face on a slim metal frame, which has a thumbnail-size screen above the right eye. Glass is set to go on sale this year, but it's already out on the streets thanks to Google's Explorer programme, which invited certain people to try out the device - for a price. 

However, when wearing it you look like a cyborg. This, as you can imagine, appeals more to tech geeks than fashion-forward hipsters.

Can Ray-Ban make Glass fashion-forward?

Glass isn't alone in struggling to impress the fashion kids - wearables in general have suffered a style malaise.

Writing in the FT Tim Bradshaw said: "Many analysts now see design, rather than technology, as the biggest barrier to wearables wider adoption."

This point was hammered home by Forbes style blogger Rebecca Gadis, who demanded something a bit more distinctive than the wearable's go-to design - a black rubber band.

She asked: "If women are going to start wearing these devices on a daily basis, shouldn't we have more 'fashion forward' options available?"

Google has been working on making Glass cooler for some time.

Last year it launched the Titanium range, which placed Glass technology in stylish spectacle frames, but Google said "that's not enough" as it unveiled its new partnership with Luxottica.  

The upshot? We'll soon be able to maintain our cool credentials while embracing the latest, geekiest tech with Google Glass Ray-Bans or Oakleys. 

From nerd-wear to fashionistas

Sister By Sibling Fashion Show

By teaming up with hipsters' favourite Ray-Ban and the surfer/snow-chic Oakley, Glass could make the leap from nerd-wear to next season's key trend.

So far just Ray-Ban and Oakley have been announced, but the Luxottica stable also includes Persol and Oliver's People. 

A post on the Google Blog read: "Luxottica understands how to build, distribute and sell great products that their clients and consumers love - something we care deeply about at Glass, too. They'll bring design and manufacturing expertise to the mix, and, together, we'll bring even more Glass style choices to our Explorers."

Can Ray-Ban make Glass more inconspicuous?

When someone walks into a room wearing Google Glass, everyone knows they're wearing Google Glass. In the same way that back in the eighties when the walkman first appeared, everyone knew you were wearing headphones. 

And people's reactions aren't always great.

Why? New Yorker blogger Anisse Gross says "Google Glass is a computer on your face, which has been a hard sell for many."

Google itself warns wearers to expect a reaction when wearing Glass out and about in town.

Can Ray-Ban design help Glass users avoid becoming 'glassholes'?

Google even launched etiquette guidelines and warned users, "Don't be a glasshole". These include a list of do's and don'ts, to help wearers cope with the unwanted attention Glass brings.

These include how to field questions from people, to explain its features and to know when to not use it.

But wouldn't it be great if it just wasn't that noticeable?

The deal with the Ray-Ban and Oakley maker should make Glass less distinctive - more normal looking - and therefore less likely to incite endless questions and funny stares from passers-by.   

By fusing Glass technology with designer frames worn in cities across the globe, Google has made a significant step towards mainstream acceptance for its internet-connected specs.

Comment below if you have thoughts on Google glass...