Shades of Innovation: Motorola, Oakley Partner

What do you get when you combine wireless technology with sunglasses?
Motorola and Oakley hope the answer is
must-have shades.

The companies announced a joint venture today to put Bluetooth
technology in eyewear. The aim is to give consumers
hands-free operation of their electronic devices. Early product designs
could be unveiled within three months.

It’s not Motorola’s first foray into wearable computing — an area that
until recent advances in wireless technology and shrinking chips belonged
in the science-fiction realm.

Earlier this month, the Schaumburg, Ill., company teamed with Burton
Snowboards. The alliance will lead to Bluetooth-enabled jackets, helmets
and beanies for wireless connectivity by next winter.

Shannon Swallow, a Motorola spokeswoman, said the Oakley and Burton pacts
are examples of how Motorola is looking to expand its market by forging
ties with “lifestyle brands.”

In addition to corporate joint ventures, Motorola’s venture arm has invested
in startups working on less traditional wireless applications. For example,
Fitsense is developing Body Local Area Network (BodyLAN) technology.

One of the Southborough, Mass., firm’s offerings combines a watch, wearable
sensors, and BodyLAN connections to provide instant feedback on a runner
or walker’s speed, distance and heart rate.

That data can then be transferred from a watch to PC or laptop and charted
to assess workouts and plan future training runs.

Other IT firms are also pushing into wearable computing, including mobile
computing specialist Xybernaut , which has worked on
projects for several high-profile clients, including Cap Gemini Ernst & Young
and the U.S. Department of Defense.

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