Through the Looking Glass, and What Google Found There


Google founder Sergey Brin (L) adjusts a pair of Project Glass glasses on designer Diane von Furstenberg before the rehearsal for von Furstenberg's Spring/Summer 2013 collection show during New York Fashion Week September 9, 2012. (CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)

The biggest news at Fashion Week in New York had as much to do with technology as it did with fashion. In a partnership with Google, prominent fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg hosted the first-ever runway fashion show featuring the new augmented reality Google Glasses. After supermodels took to the catwalk wearing Google Glasses, Google CEO Sergey Brin and Diane von Furstenberg held hands at the end of the show to symbolically mark the start of a remarkable collaboration between the worlds of fashion and technology. As a result, the "DVF Through Glass" collaboration might very well usher in the era of wearable computing and change forever how we think about high-tech gadgets.

What Google probably found when it looked through the Looking Glass, so to speak, was that the ubiquity of mobile devices is forever changing how we think about computing. And, yet, the folks at the Googleplex faced a dilemma: while wearable computing might be something that’s central to the Singularity, it had very little appeal to the mainstream population.

That is, until now.

From Google’s perspective, what could possibly be better than a group of impossibly beautiful supermodels strutting down the catwalk, wearing fashionable Google Glasses in tints of blue and pink? At a time when the price of even the highest-end tablet device is less than $1000, what other approach could possibly compel people to plunk down $1500 for a pair of new Google Glasses? As Rupert Murdoch tweeted when he first saw the Google Glasses on the catwalk, “Genius! Sergey Brin showing revolutionary new glasses at DVF, can take photos, receive texts, give directions, and more.”

Whether the new DVF-Google relationship opens up a whole new era of wearable computing, however, is open to debate. At best, the first batch of Google Glasses will not arrive until 2013. And, it’s still unclear whether Google Glasses are just a perpetual beta project from Google. Who knows (besides Brin, perhaps)? Given the upcoming launch of Apple’s iPhone 5, maybe Google is just looking to divert some of the attention away from Apple this week?


Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, stands for a photograph while wearing Project Glass internet glasses at the Diane Von Furstenberg fashion show in New York, U.S., on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (Peter Foley/BLOOMBERG)

In an era where celebrities play an increasingly important role in generating buzz about new products, the Google Glasses would appear to have won half the battle in getting wearable computing to the masses. With the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker — someone who bridges the world of high and low fashion — wearing the Google Glasses, it’s only a matter of time before other aspiring fashionistas embrace nerd fashion and make it chic.

Dominic Basulto is a digital thinker at Bond Strategy and Influence (formerly called Electric Artists) in New York. Prior to Bond Strategy and Influence, he was the editor of Fortune’s Business Innovation Insider and a founding member of Corante.com, one of the Web’s first blog media companies. He also shares his thoughts on innovation on the Big Think Endless Innovation blog and is working on a new book on innovation called “Endless Innovation, Most Beautifuland Most Wonderful.”

Read more news and ideas on Innovations:

Did Apple innovate?

The Mark Zuckerberg interview: ‘Are you still having fun?’

The Web should help us remember better

Dominic Basulto is a futurist and blogger based in New York City.

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