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Google Project Glass team eyeing phone functions, voice commands

Google's Project Glass lead designer, Babak Parviz, has divulged further details about the new interactive glasses. The new invention was previously demoed at last year's Google I/O conference where the Explorer Edition of the device was offered for $1,500 (£923) to conference attendees.

Outside of the dramatic skydiving demonstration at the I/O conference last year, the public has had few opportunities to see what the Project Glass device can actually do in terms of software applications and hardware interface controls. Over six months have passed since the device's debut, a relatively long stretch of time in the context of technology development, so excitement and speculation about the interactive glasses has only increased.

Speaking with science publication IEEE Spectrum, Parviz offered a few more slivers of information that help to fill out the picture of exactly how Project Glass will function when it finally reaches developers. In terms of interface, fans of the device have already seen the tiny touch pad on its side, but according to Parviz, that's just the beginning.

"We have also experimented a lot with using voice commands. We have full audio in and audio out, which is a nice, natural way of interacting with something that you'd wear and always have with you," said Parviz.

"We have also experimented with some head gestures."

However, when pressed on the topic of software applications, Parviz was purposefully vague, only offering a hypothetical scenario regarding how apps will work on the device.

"One example is to send specific types of email to my device so I can read them or have it read to me by my device, and I can then respond to it with my voice," Parviz said.

"That's a type of application that is related to the cloud."

As for battery life, he offered no exact numbers, but indicated that a lot of research has gone into the power supply issue.

"We have done a lot of work in this area, and it is still a work in progress," Parviz explained.

"Our hope is that the battery life would be sufficient for the whole day. That's our target. So you would put the device on in the morning and you'd go about your daily routine. By the time you got back home, the device would still be functioning."

Perhaps the most interesting comment from Parviz came when he was asked about the prospect of using the device as a kind of smartphone. Envisioning Project Glass as the next generation of smartphone clearly offers more potential for major innovation and market disruption than simply using it to take photos, so even the hint of such is exciting. To that question, Parviz would only say, "We are working on it."

Finally, the most talked-about potential aspect of Project Glass from Google critics is the inclusion of advertisements on the device's display. According to Parviz this isn't the kind of experience users will be subjected to when donning the interactive specs.

"At the moment, there are no plans for advertising on this device," he said. Of course, the key phrase in that statement is "at the moment." As history has shown, several Google products have been offered as free in the beginning, only to have ads show up after the service has reach sufficient scale.

Nevertheless, how Project Glass will eventually pan out once it reaches developers, and then, presumably, consumers, will likely depend more on whether the device is quickly embraced as a truly easy-to-use new platform or simply a very attractive experiment released just a little too early into a market still becoming accustomed to a world of interactive touch screens.