The Chinese name their years after animals — the year of the goat, the rat and so on. In the tech world, we name years after devices. Thus, 2007 was the year of the iPhone and 2010 was the year of the iPad. It's beginning to look as though 2013 will be the year of Glass. This prediction is based on the astonishing level of comment, curiosity, excitement, trepidation and hostility surrounding an augmented-reality device created by Google and called Google Glass.

For those who have been vacationing on Mars, I should explain that Google Glass (note the singular) is a headset that superficially resembles a pair of spectacles and contains a small mobile computer, a camera, a microphone and a tiny refractive display that projects a virtual screen in the wearer's field of vision. The computer is networked via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and can be activated either by touching the headset or by voice commands, as in: "OK Glass, take a picture."

What Glass portends, therefore, is the prospect of wearable, ubiquitous computing together with what is sometimes called "life logging" — the ability to compile a detailed visual and audio record of one's daily life that can be uploaded and stored in the cloud. (Google's cloud, needless to say.) Some people are wildly — nay insanely — excited by this possibility. Others are deeply apprehensive and the spectrum of responses suggests that Google's gadget has touched a nerve in a way that few technologies do.