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Google Glass GOES GLAM, grabs Gap guru

Fashion exec Ivy Ross takes over project lead

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In a move that could signal a looming consumer-market push for Glass, Google has hired former Gap and Calvin Klein executive Ivy Ross to lead its augmented-reality project.

Last serving as CMO of Art.com, Ross brings to the project an extensive résumé from the fashion and design worlds. The Harvard-educated exec has held marketing, creative, and design titles at the likes of Bausch and Lomb, Coach, Calvin Klein, and Gap.

The hiring would suggest an impending effort by Google to make Glass a mainstream project. With a design and marketing background, Ross would be able to oversee a campaign to expand Glass beyond the tech-centric "Explorer" campaign and position the headset to appeal to the general public as a consumer device.

"With your help, I look forward to answering the seemingly simple, but truly audacious questions Glass poses," Ross wrote in Google+ post.

"Can technology be something that frees us up and keeps us in the moment, rather than taking us out of it? Can it help us look up and out at the world around us, and the people who share it with us?"

Among the first tasks Ross could face is changing the public's perception of the augmented reality headsets, which have been seen by some as an invasion of privacy and a symbol of the growing divide between "techies" and the general public, particularly in Google's Silicon Valley and San Francisco backyard.

With Ross at the helm, Google could seek to change the image of Glass from a cutting-edge tool for early adopters to a product aimed at everyday users.

Google has recently pushed a set of products intended to expand the appeal of Glass to new markets, including a number of new applications for travel, tourism, and dining, as well as a tools for golfers to use Glass while on the links.

The UC Irvine School of Medicine has also sought to employ Glass as part of its curriculum, outfitting medical students with the device for use in anatomy courses.

Given the low cost estimates on the price of Glass hardware, some industry analysts have speculated that as Google recoups its costs for research and development, the company could significantly bring down the headset's price tag to increase its mass-market appeal.

Google is not alone in tapping the fashion and design spaces to spice up its product lines. Apple has raided the likes of Burberry and Yves Saint Laurent for some of its recent executive hires. ®

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