Google is adding prescription frames and new styles of detachable sunglasses to its computerised, internet-connected goggles, known as Glass.
The move comes as Google prepares to make Glass available to the general population later this year. Currently, Glass is only available to the 10,000 “explorers” who are testing and creating apps for it.
The gadget itself is not changing with this announcement. Rather, Google plans to make various attachments available. The company is now offering four styles of prescription frames and two types of shades. The frames will cost $225 (£136) and the sunglasses $150 (£90). Glass itself currently costs $1,500 US dollars (£900).
Users can take the frames to any vision care provider for prescription lenses. Google said it is working with insurance provider Vision Service Plan to train eyecare providers around the US on how to work with Glass. Google said some insurance plans may cover the cost of the frames.
Isabelle Olsson, the lead designer for Google Glass, said the new frames open the spectacles up to a larger audience. “We want as many people as possible to wear it,” she said. “People need to be able to choose,” Ms Olsson said. “These products need to be lifestyle products.”
To that end, Glass's designers have picked four distinct frame styles, ranging from a chunky bold style that stands out to a thinner design that blends in more on the wearer’s face.
Ms Olsson said Google will not be able to compete with the thousands of styles offered at typical spectacles stores. Instead, Glass's designers looked at what types of glasses are most popular, what people wear the most and, importantly, what they look good in.
The latter has been a constant challenge for the nascent wearable technology industry, especially for a product like Google Glass, designed to be worn on the face. When Google unveiled Glass two years ago, it drew unfavourable comparisons to the often ridiculed Bluetooth headsets and earpieces.
In designing Google Glass, Ms Olsson and her team focused on three design principles with the goal of creating something that people want to wear. These were lightness, simplicity and scalability: different options available for different people, akin to different styles of headphones.
Google Glass currently comes in five colours: charcoal, shale, white, tangerine and blue. The frame attachments will all be titanium. Users can mix and match Glass and frames.