Intel and Luxottica marry in fashion-focused wearables partnership
Wed 3 Dec 2014
Luxottica, the Italian eyewear group, today announced a partnership with Intel which will see the fashion and technology houses join in researching and developing tech-enabled glasses.
This deal marks a significant advance for a growing wearables market in which the necessity for a strong relationship between fashion and technology is becoming increasingly important.
“The growth of wearable technology is creating a new playing field for innovation,” said Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, in the announcement. “Through our collaboration with Luxottica Group, we will unite our respective ecosystems. We expect the combination of our expertise to help drive a much faster pace of innovation and push the envelope,” he continued.
“We bring to them the art of the possible, and they can help us figure out how to make people want it, very intimately,” Krzanich explained to investors at a conference in California.
Luxottica CEO Massimo Vian also added that the agreement “marks a new way to see glasses.”
The open-ended partnership, which has been under discussion for two years, will involve the creation of a new collaborative research and development department based in California. The new group, formed of both Intel and Luxottica specialists, will look at expanding technologies for eyewear across the Italian company’s portfolio of brands including Bulgari, Chanel, Coach, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Burberry.
“We’ve never had as flexible and open a contract with anyone before,” Vian said. “We have a magic chemistry.”
Luxottica also announced earlier this year that it would be working with Google to design fashionable frames for Google Glass across its Oakley and Ray-Ban brands. Vian explained that the new Intel deal by no means signals a split with this existing agreement: “Google Glass is a specific product we are working on […] With Intel, we are researching new possibilities that can be applied or offered to many brands.”
Intel too has established other fashion partnerships this year, collaborating with Opening Ceremony (the design team behind MICA smart bracelets), the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Barneys, and Fossil.
Krzanich told investors, “We’re working on batteries that can be almost any shape you want […] Very small footprint silicon with low-power usages and high computing possibilities.”
“When I think of wearables, I think of appendages. You have the wrist, the torso, the eyes and ears. We are thinking about wearables in each of those spaces,” he said.
Vian suggested that the first product from the Luxottica/Intel range would be available from next year.