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IT & Systems Management

If Google Glass is just a 'prototype' why is it pairing up with luxury sports eyewear?

Patience, patience, young Explorer. Tomorrow's Glass will be more fashionable than today's.

This is the thrust of Google's announcement that it's teaming up with Luxottica, the premium eyewear manufacturer that essentially makes every brand of glasses that matters (a fact profiled in a 60 Minutes segment that isn't completely boring).

In a Monday blog post that deliciously makes reference to monocles--because monocles remain a thing--Google explains that its smartglasses are the natural progression of human ingenuity in eyewear, and it's time to make Glass as fashionable as possible.

If you'll remember, Google's fashion-forward effort first kicked off when it announced its own home-brewed Titanium Collection of Glass frames in January. And now Google continues the charge with the Luxottica announcement. In a separate press release, Luxottica explained that the two "major proprietary brands" of its group, Ray-Ban and Oakley, will take part in the Glass collaboration, and more details will be shared later.

The Luxottica announcement comes just three days after Google shared a blog post in which it concedes that the current Explorer edition of Glass is an unpolished "prototype" that may eventually "look as funny to us as that mobile phone from the mid 80s." The dissonance between Friday's press release and yesterday's press release is a bit glaring. To parse this cynically: Today's Explorer version of Glass is poised to be an anachronism... but wait! It's about to be paired with the most modern-cool eyewear available today!

Well, you have to read Google's Luxottica announcement carefully. All its import is back-loaded in the final paragraph: "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."

Translation: Google is floating another trial balloon for the consumer release of Glass. Goal number one: Make sure the smartglasses have mainstream appeal. Luxottica's brand I.D. can help immensely in that effort. (Disclosure: I'm a committed Oaklyophile, and I believe the brand's high-tech aesthetic will marry well with Google's geeky paraphernalia.) 

Goal number two: Make sure the smartglasses work. This is a work in progress, but Google has time on its side. I trust for the better part of the year, we'll be obsessing over Android Wear smartwatches, which look quite promising, and suggest that Google really can figure out wearables.

Bottom line: The Glass story is gaining momentum. Press releases are picking up steam. We have no idea what the final consumer version of Glass will deliver, but as a wise man once said, it's better to look good than feel good, and with the Luxottica announcement, Google is wrapping up this maxim with a perfectly little bow.

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