Google is in negotiations with a trendy online eyeglass vendor to add some style to its the augmented reality-enhanced glasses it continues to develop, according to the New York Times. The move underscores the importance of fashion and design in the emerging world of wearable technology, as the Times notes, which is poised to gain traction in a big way in the next few years.
I understand why Google would place such a high priority on design: Sleek lines and a stylish look helped fuel the iPhone transform the mobile world, of course, and no piece of wearable gadgetry will be as visible as glasses. As my colleague Katie Fehrenbacher writes, Google’s eyepieces aren’t likely to find much of an audience if they’re just plain dorky-looking.
I think Google may be getting ahead of itself, however. The glasses aren’t expected to be available to consumers for about a year, indicating they’re still very much in the development phase. And while Google has yet to disclose pricing, the sticker price alone is likely to prevent the first iteration from gaining any real mainstream traction. Rather than focus on cosmetics, then, I think Google would be wise to make the glasses as useful and practical as possible — and then to explain their value to consumers.