Google has announced a set of fancy prescription frames and shades for its Glass Internet-connected eyewear in an image makeover to give it broader appeal before a mass launch in the United States later this year.
The new frames and shades were announced by Google late Monday and are available for purchase now by users of the wearable device. Google also announced it plans to release Glass to the general public at some point toward the end of 2014.
The frames come in four styles, including Bold, Curve, Thin and Split, and cost $225 (£136) each, while the sunglasses are sold in Classic and Edge for $150 (£90) each.
The styles are based on existing popular trends in the eye care industry, said Steve Lee, Glass’ product director. Prescription frames are the most-requested improvement to the Explorer program by current Glass owners, he said.
Counting Glass’ five colors and its original frame and shade, Google Glass owners will be able to mix and match up to 40 combinations of colors, frames, and shades.
“We think they’ll accommodate most people’s tastes. Anybody who is familiar with the process of getting [an eyeglasses] prescription filled will be familiar with how you get prescription Glass,” Lee said.
Lee said that all four of the Titanium Collection designs were created in-house at Google but are being manufactured in Japan. The clip-on shades are made by Hawaii-based sunglasses manufacturer Maui Jim.
Google said it has been training an unspecified number of Vision Service Plan eye care specialists in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles to combine the device and special Glass frames with prescription lenses.
Consumers who have VSP’s insurance, VSP Vision Care, will be able to receive a reimbursement on the special Glass frames up to the allowance provided with their current vision benefit, Google said.
“This marks the next phase in the evolution of Glass as we move toward a wider consumer launch later in 2014,” Google said in a statement.
Isabelle Olsson, the lead designer for Google Glass, showcased the new frames during Google Glass Basecamp last week.
Google launched its Glass technology in July 2012 and only people on the Glass Explorers program, or select friends and family, have been able to purchase the tech.
However, Google is facing a challenge in making Glass socially acceptable, something which these more traditional frames will have been designed to address. Last week a man and his wife were told to leave an Ohio cinema during a film because he was wearing the device, reports the Telegraph.
The customer was ordered to leave by a policeman who removed the Glass from his face, before reportedly questioning him for several hours. They claimed he was attempting to illegally record the film, although the man invited them to check the Glass to prove he had not.
He claimed to have been using them because they had prescription lenses, which Google later said was not an official product, showing that some users had already worked on creating their own solution to the problem of corrective lenses.