Google Glass is cutting-edge tech, driven by a high-speed wireless infrastructure that didn’t even exist a few years ago. But we’ve had video glasses for well over a decade now–decent ones–that simulated big-screen TVs while most of us were squinting at four-inch mobile displays. No doubt one reason the tech never took off is that these headsets blinded our eyes from the world around us (which is a scarier proposition than putting on a pair of headphones). But there’s another, far shallower reason that’s equally as important–no one wants to look like their face is wearing the equivalent of a BlackBerry holster.
About a year ago, we suggested that Google Glass needed a fashion-industry makeover. It seems the company agreed with this sentiment. Because according to the New York Times, Google’s design team is in talks with the Internet-based fashion glasses company Warby Parker to create fashionable versions of its product. It’s all part of a more design-oriented Google, that’s making over its products with human taste, not just human tendency, in mind. From the New York Times:
Google’s design team has made Glass’s look and comfort a priority, according to a person briefed on the company’s design process. Designers first made it in black, thinking it would flatter everyone, but they added colors because black frames can look heavy on a fair person. The glasses, which 18 months ago weighed eight pounds, are now lighter than a typical pair of sunglasses. Engineers have worked to shrink the components so wearers look less like cyborgs.
The last time we heard about Google sweating color choices, they were using algorithms to choose between 41 shades of blue.
As for the potential of a Warby Parker partnership itself, no doubt this is exactly the sort of deal that could be perfect for Google. Warby Parker products hover just under $100, which has allowed them to find a sweet spot of style and affordability that could serve as a model moving forward.
But after releasing a few fashionable versions of Glass, Google would be smart to open up the Glass platform to all fashion designers, just as they did Android to phone manufacturers. Because in fashion, there will always be trends, but users (people) demand a level of personal expression that the tech sector has never imagined–fashion is far more akin to the role of apps than it is of phones. Fashion is granular, modular, and constantly in flux. Apple may be able to convince us to all wear the same iWatch, but could any company sell us on a single pair of shoes or pants? Nope. Not even if they come in black…or the perfect shade of blue.