Google Glass 'version two' really is on the way

Google is working on a more user-friendly version of Glass with Italian eyewear company Luxottica.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Luxottica, the eyewear giant behind Sunglass Hut and Oakley sunglasses, is making a new version of Google's Glass.

The company's chief exec Massimo Vian confirmed on Friday that its deal with Google to make the company's networked eyewear is still active and will see a new version produced soon, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Google stopped selling Glass at the beginning of the year as it wound down the Glass Explorer program. It then moved the wearable experiment from its Google X research lab and into a unit headed up by former Apple exec Tony Fadell - who joined Google through its Nest acquisition - and former fashion exec Ivy Ross. Meanwhile, Google's Glass page indicates its Glass for Work program, perhaps the device's natural home, is still ongoing.

According to the WSJ, Luxottica's Vian told shareholders that he recently met with the Glass team and said there are "some second thoughts on how to interpret version three" of Glass. The company is currently working on version two, he added. Vian didn't say when the next Glass device would be ready, however.

He also noted that Luxottica's wearables partnership with Intel is still going ahead, and a product is set to be released between February and March next year. The company said when it first signed the deal with Intel that it expected to launch an initial product this year.

While Google's efforts with Glass were considered to be poorly executed or too 'out there' to stir mass interest in the face-mounted technology, Luxottica hopes its work with Google and Intel will give it a large enough lead in connected eyewear to swoop in when people are ready for a "new interface with the world".

"No one knows how big this business could be in the future. But for sure we know that now, when it will take off, we will be in a leadership position, far, far away from anybody else," Vian told investors in March.

"The frame per se sits in the perfect position in front of the eyes, close to the mouth and close to our ear. This is the idea, so as to create a new interface with the external world. We are there with them. We are happy with these partnerships."

Earlier this year, Google's chairman Eric Schmidt said Glass would return and in the meantime was being made "ready for users".

Google's wearable headgear drew criticism on a number of fronts during the two years it was available to the public, from its high price to limited availability, short battery life, and the fact the device made people caught in its gaze uncomfortable.

But if Apple CEO Tim Cook is right, any future release of Glass may be destined to be a flop. Quoted in the New Yorker earlier this year, Cook said the face is the wrong place for wearable tech.

"We always thought that glasses were not a smart move, from a point of view that people would not really want to wear them. They were intrusive, instead of pushing technology to the background, as we've always believed," said Cook.

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