While Google's technology is certainly widely known, its sense of style is something that's a little less obvious. But with the upcoming Google Glass technology, Google's out to put a little extra bite into the style portion of its design, and it's calling in some pretty substantial help to do so: Warby Parker.
Warby Parker is a recent startup company that focuses on trendy eyeglasses. Warby Parker itself is something of a portmanteau, taking the names of two characters from Jack Kerouac works – Warby Pepper and Zagg Parker – and combining the two to create a new whole, reflecting Warby Parker's corporate desire to "take a road less traveled and to see the world through a different lens."
Additionally, Warby Parker offers 27 limited run styles – including one monocle – focusing on what it describes as "vintage-inspired with a contemporary twist," and attempting to provide these looks for a fraction of competitors' prices.
Right now, however, Google Glass frames don't have lenses. The firm is working on putting some lenses into some models – tops on the list are prescription lenses or sunglass lenses – but for the most part, it's just tiny screens that look bigger to the user. Users can then interface with the glasses in a variety of different ways, recording video or taking pictures hands-free, or using voice commands to surf the Web, or even get language translations on the fly.
Google, for its part, calls this "ubiquitous computing," in which there's always a computer somewhere on a user at any given time. Sure, they may switch to a laptop or desktop when they get home at night, but when they leave the house, they still have computing capability on hand with their smartphones, tablets, and of course Google Glass.
What's more is that Google Glass is likely to be a pipeline for several different Google products, including Google Maps, Google Now alerts and several others. The idea of inserting an augmented reality overlay directly into, well, reality, now makes perfect sense with a constantly present heads-up display like that offered by Google Glass – and Google has already been at work with something similar in its Ingress app.
While the computing aspect of Google Glass is important, wearable computing represents a twofold challenge to developers: not only is the product to be sufficiently powerful to accomplish a wide variety of tasks; it must also be aesthetically pleasing to get people to wear it. Let's face it: if someone were to design a set of shoes that could not only walk on water but also turn a user's feet into tiny hovercrafts, but they looked like clown shoes, virtually no one would buy them. Put that same technology in a pair of hiking boots, and more would show up.
Put that technology in sharp black dress shoes like James Bond, there's a line around the block.
Something similar reportedly happened to Bluetooth device wearers and BlackBerry holster wearers – useful technology, minimal aesthetics.
It's a strange field for Google to have to consider, but consider it, it must. Bringing in Warby Parker, who already has a clear handle on eyeglass aesthetics, should prove a smart move indeed, and make Google Glass a much more palatable technology choice.
Edited by Braden Becker