Eyewear manufacturer Oakley, Inc. is researching technology that could create glasses similar to those Google showed off last week for its Glass project. Mark Milian at Bloomberg reports that Oakley could be developing technology to display information on the inside of lenses.
Milian quotes Oakley CEO Colin Baden as saying the technology could give them hardware that is “comparable” to Google Glass. From the interview:
“Obviously, you can think of many applications in the competitive field of sports,” Baden said. “That’s the halo point of where we would begin, but certainly you can transcend that into a variety of other applications.”
It’s not surprising that Oakley would take that route into the market. Oakley has a history of using celebrities, especially sports stars, to promote their eyewear. It’s also mentioned that Oakley might develop products for the U.S. military through their subsidiary Eye Safety Systems.
In the Bloomberg interview Baden stated the devices would not be cheap – another historical marketing tactic for Oakley eyewear. The devices would be bluetooth enabled and take voice commands. Oakley already sells bluetooth enabled sunglasses with built-in earbuds. It’s conceivable that a well-known and popular eyewear brand could help popularize smart-glasses faster than the engineers at Google.
Milian quotes Baden as saying Oakely has been “chasing this beast since 1997.” If that is the case, they had better pick up their pace and start manufacturing. With Google already showing off a prototype and locking down patents for the technology, Oakley may already be behind. Also, the rumors that Valve may be interested in these types of devices for augmented-reality gaming means Oakley could be caught without a large share of the wearable-computing market. The company could always be the designer behind higher-end computing eyewear from other companies, however, or could provide their own niche market by playing to their strengths: high-end prices and wild designs. Also, Baden mentioned that Oakley has hundreds of eyewear patents it would consider licensing.