Google Glass, the augmented reality-enabled glasses, is likely to start retailing later this year. Apple’s iWatch, the pet project of ace designer Jony Ive, is also likely to be launched this year. The two next-big-things could prove to be a major inflection point in the technology market

The smartphone is so yesterday. And so is the tablet PC. For a generation that lives on instant gratification, these devices are fast losing their X factor.

So what is the next big thing?

It could be Google Glass, the weird-looking augmented reality-enabled spectacles that the company hopes to sell by the million once it hits the retail markets later this year. Since last month, the company has been handing over the prototype to top technology blogs for trials and even opened up a window of opportunity for lay users to write to them on why they should be among the first to try it out.

There are the usual rumours too surrounding Apple's next big product. One that has been doing the rounds for some time is the long-in-development replacement to the wristwatch — the iWatch as it has been christened. A wearable intelligent watch that would replace the old faithful and provide more than just time-keeping services — add to that a pedometer, maps, health monitoring… the possibilities are many and exciting.

If the Internet buzz is anything to go by, a brand new genre of gadget could be headed to your living room by year end. Google has already said it has finalised its design for the Google Glass.

A looking glass and more

In an interview to technology blog The Verve, Google Glass product director Steve Lee and lead industrial designer Isabelle Olsson told technology writer Joshua Topolsky that the big mandate in front of them while creating the device was to create a technology that would help people stay connected and yet not feel distracted when they used it. And so the solution: a wearable glass computer that augments reality as and when one needs it. At other times, well, it is supposed to be a cool looking glass.

There are already several videos out on YouTube over the past month with several Silicon Valley-based technology bloggers having tried out the new technology, and there are also voices of concern that Google Glass could violate people's privacy unlike any other device that’s available because of its always-on nature.

Google will need to build an Apps ecosystem surrounding the capabilities of Google Glass for the device to succeed. But it is not hard to see that happen. Already, in its various demos, Google Glass has been shown to be pretty handy with regard to mapping and imaging solutions. Although it would be weird to be in a room full of Google Glass-wearing nerds talking to their glasses: “Glass, do this, etc.” But the answers to that will be known for sure by next year, if as Mr. Lee succeeds in what he describes in the interview to The Verve, and puts out the device late this year or early next year.

Much-awaited iWatch

Apple's much-awaited iWatch, on the other hand, seems more plausible as a recent report by business news agency Bloomberg put it. The watch industry is massive enough for a company on the scale of Apple to make inroads into. The Bloomberg report cited a number as big as $6 billion being the playing field should Apple enter it.

Recent advances in curved glass technology and the possibility of leveraging on the iOS ecosystem all point in the direction of the guys at Cupertino possibly nailing this one. Of late, Apple has started lagging behind when it comes to innovations, with several people beginning to question the increasingly incremental improvements of its product line-up.