Ivy Ross, formerly a design and marketing leader at companies such as Art.com, Mattel, Disney and Calvin Klein, has been appointed as head of the Google Glass project, joining the team on 19 May.
A Harvard Business School graduate, Ross doesn’t strictly come from a tech background, though her most recent role was chief marketing officer at Art.com.
She has held several high-level marketing and design positions at Mattel, Disney, Swatch, Calvin Klein and Gap. She’s a noted jewelry artist and some of her woven titanium designs are on display at the Smithsonian and other international museums. She also worked in eyewear design for contact lens-makers Bausch and Lomb in the Nineties.
With her background in retail marketing, Ross is well-positioned to tackle the challenge of making Glass an attractive product for the masses. Obstacles she will have to overcome include the perception of wearers as ‘Glassholes’ and the fears and regulatory restrictions already surrounding the beta product.
In a ‘letter’ to Glass Explorers posted on the Google Glass Google+ page, Ross identified herself as head of Glass and said she’s looking forward to “answering the seemingly simple, but truly audacious questions Glass poses.”
These questions include whether Glass can be a tech accessory that keeps users in the present rather than removing them from what’s happening in their environment. It’s also believed that some of the ‘audacious’ questions Ross will seek to answer will revolve around the safety and privacy implications posed by Glass.
A fearless woman in the corporate world
A TedX talk by Ross in 2013 offers an insight into her leadership process and her approach to design and creativity. In discussing a project she started at Mattel, she also addresses the role of women in the workplace.
“I realised that what Project Platypus was really about was about being fearless to be a woman in the corporate world, bringing all that the feminine has to offer, unapologetically, including nurturing, connection, inspiration and relationship, all within a safe environment,” she said.
Ross will work at Google X, the tech giant’s semi-secret innovation centre, under scientist Astro Teller and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
Her appointment comes in tandem with a key departure at Google X, as lead electrical engineer Adrian Wong has defected to Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift, which is now owned by Facebook.
Wong joined Google in December 2010 and worked on Google X projects as hardware engineering manager on systems, camera and RF for the consumer edition of Glass and the senior hardware engineer on the Explorer edition.
Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.