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First look: Xiaomi talks a big game for their new AR glasses
At MWC 2023, Xiaomi has introduced one of the most exciting new Android phones of late, the Xiaomi 13 Pro. Beyond phones, the company has been showing off products in many different categories, including robots, electric scooters, and a new pair of AR glasses.
We got to see the Xiaomi Wireless AR Glass Discovery Edition first hand, although the product is some ways off from commercialization. Xiaomi wasn’t ready to let members of the media try the glasses on, but it did give Android Authority a demonstration of working units.
The Xiaomi AR glasses are completely wireless, so users won’t need to tether them to a PC or smartphone. The company said it worked to reduce latency between the glasses and connected smartphones down to under 50ms, which is similar to wired connections and sufficient for applications like AR gaming.
The glasses use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 processor (also found in the Meta’s Quest Pro) and work with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces platform for XR applications. Compatibility is limited right now to the new Xiaomi 13 series.
The glasses themselves look like oversized, slightly inelegant, sunglasses. They’re made with materials including a magnesium-lithium alloy and fiber carbon, which keeps weight down to 126g. They seemed light enough in my brief time with them, though spending prolonged time with them could become tiring.
The silver-colored body is paired with electrochromic lenses that can go dark to prevent light leaking in or can stay transparent for AR applications.
Xiaomi claims the 58 ppd density (pixels per degree of visual field) of the glasses is so high that users will not be able to spot individual pixels. The images are generated by a pair of microOLED display and projected in front of the user’s eyes through two glass prisms.
A Xiaomi representative showed off an AR game that overlaid animations on top of physical world items. Imagine being able to play a tower defense-style game on top of your kitchen table, using your phone as a controller.
I was more interested about the possibility of using Xiaomi’s AR glasses to interact with the company’s numerous smart home products. The manufacturer offered a couple of examples I found compelling, like being able to “grab” the image from a TV screen and display it as a virtual display on the glasses or switching a smart lamp on and off by making a gesture in the air. The glasses track the user’s hand movements, opening up many other interesting possibilities and providing a new way to interact with smart objects besides voice and touch.
The Xiaomi Wireless AR Glass Discovery Edition are a cool new product, but we’ll wait to see whether Xiaomi actually brings them to market in a meaningful way. The company is known for the dizzying variety of its ecosystem, but also for teasing some products that never get delivered.
Xiaomi joins companies like TCL, Samsung, Lenovo and others in the exploration of the AR glasses product category. We haven’t seen any truly compelling products just yet, but that could change as soon as this year when Apple is expected to introduce its own AR product. The iPhone maker has a history of launching category-defining products, so a successful release could unleash explosive growth in head-mounted computing devices.