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Luxottica join forces with Google for Project Glass

Eyewear company to help develop wearable computer devices

25 March, 17:52
Luxottica join forces with Google for Project Glass (By Laura Clarke) (ANSA) - Rome, March 25 - Investors on Tuesday gave their thumbs up to a deal by Italian luxury glasses company Luxottica to join forces with global technology giant Google and develop its innovative wearable computer project Glass. Stocks in the world's largest eyewear manufacturer, whose brand portfolio includes Ray-Ban, Oakley, and Persol, rose 3.77% on the Milan bourse to 40.43 euros by early afternoon, thanks partly to a positive reception of the project from business analysts.

"The agreement allows Luxottica to maintain its leadership in a product area that is still at the embryonic stage but with strong opportunities for growth," said investment banking firm Equita. Likewise, security brokerage firm Intermonte said the partnership would give the eyewear company "access to a technology and to a product that could have huge potential if it becomes widely used".

The first Glass products combining a tiny screen, camera and audio on a device worn at eye level are expected to go on sale in 2015.

Luxottica and Google announced their official partnership on Monday after beginning to work together last year. Under the agreement, the two corporations will "establish a team of experts devoted to working on the design, development, tooling and engineering of Glass products that straddle the line between high-fashion, lifestyle and innovative technology," read a joint statement.

Ray-Ban and Oakley, which have a long experience in wearable technology, would be a part of the partnership with Glass, the companies said.

"Luxottica has built an impressive history over the last 50 years designing, manufacturing and distributing some of the most successful and well-known brands in eyewear today," said Google vice-president and leading innovator Astro Teller. "We are thrilled to be partnering with them as we look to push Glass and the broader industry forward into the emerging smart eyewear market". Luxottica Chief Executive Officer Andrea Guerra expressed his satisfaction at the deal.

"It is an incredible example of the period we are in and which until only a few years ago was unthinkable even for me," he told La Repubblica newspaper on Tuesday. The initiative comes on the heels of a similar partnership between Google and vision-care giant VSP Global to offer prescription lenses and frames for Project Glass, announced in January.

This partnership will open up the potential market for Glass products to anyone needing prescription glasses, as well as offering training to eye-care professionals in how to fit the devices for customers. Now with assistance from Luxottica, Google hopes to use Italian style to convince doubtful customers to wear computers on their face. "This is a fashion problem as much as it is a technology problem," Teller said.

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