Google Glass is about to get some competition—from its own partner

More stylish that this.
More stylish that this.
Image: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
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Intel and Italian eyewear maker Luxottica are teaming up to invest in hi-tech smart glasses.

The companies have inked a multiyear research-and-development partnership to develop luxury and sports eyewear, products that will likely encroach on Google Glass’s territory. It makes sense for Luxottica to infuse its portfolio of products with technology. But research and development is far from manufacturing and shipping products, and it remains to be seen what will actually come from the deal.

There’s a complicated web of relationships at play here. Earlier this year, Luxottica—which makes eyewear for Ray-Ban, Oakley, Chanel, Prada, and other high-end brands—signed an agreement with the search giant to create more fashionable frames for Google Glass. (In September, Luxottica founder Leonardo Del Vecchio remarked that he’d be “embarrassed” to sport a pair of Google Glass anywhere outside a discotheque.)

In addition, Google is reportedly tapping Intel to replace the Texas Instruments processor used in Glass. The chip-maker has been investing heavily in the fashion-tech space, recently showing off a smart snakeskin-wrapped bracelet built in collaboration with Opening Ceremony, and a new smartwatch from hip-hop artist Will.i.am.

Luxottica chief Massimo Vian characterized its deals with Intel and Google as different kinds of relationships, adding that the Intel partnership would not affect its agreement with Google. “Google Glass is a specific product we are working on,” he told The New York Times. “With Intel, we are researching new possibilities that can be applied or offered to many brands.”

Update: Google, likewise, insists there is no conflict between the three parties. “We collaborate closely with both companies and will continue to do so,” a Google representative told Quartz. “More importantly, we see more activity and investment in smart eyewear and wearables in general as a good thing for everyone, especially consumers.”

Quartz has also reached out to Intel for comment.