Technology

Xiaomi presents Good Glasses with a totally inexperienced MicroLED waveguide show

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  • Xiaomi’s Smart Glasses. This is a camera on the right in the picture and the display system on the left. This blue area in the lens is the waveguide display.

  • Explode! You can see the display system on the left.

    Xiaomi

  • A microLED display fires into a series of lenses and then rounds the corner into the lens.

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  • The lens is a waveguide that magnifies the microLED light and directs it into your eye. The lens looks pretty thick and actually goes into the temple of the glasses.

    Xiaomi

  • The microLED component. This sure looks like a real, working device.

    Xiaomi

  • The display is very small.

    Xiaomi

  • Either Xiaomi is really detailed on special effects or this is a working prototype. Here it shows a clock.

    Xiaomi

  • The back. I’m guessing these big bumps around the ear are for the batteries.

    Xiaomi

  • A close up of the camera.

    Xiaomi

  • On the left side I see a row of buttons on the arm, and there is a microphone hole next to the nose pad.

    Xiaomi

Xiaomi – the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer – would like to draw your technical attention briefly from the introduction of the iPhone 13 to new AR glasses called “Xiaomi Smart Glasses”. The company calls this a “concept” device, but previous Xiaomi “concept” devices have become real retail products. There’s no release date or price point yet, but it looks like it’s a working device. Xiaomi’s feet are firmly on the ground, and there’s not much about the product that hasn’t been made by Google Glass or Snapchat Spectacles.

The smart glasses look like somewhat bulky prescription glasses, with a 5 MP camera in one corner and the display system in the other. The display system is wild – a microLED display fires into a series of lenses and then into a waveguide lens for the right eye only. Fitting a microLED into glasses was apparently not easy – according to Xiaomi, the chip measures 2.4 mm x 2.02 mm with individual pixels of 4 μm. The big tradeoff is that the microLED system is actually monochrome: the glasses can only display green, so if you ever used a computer in the 1980s, you’ll feel right at home.

The largest AR glasses product on the market is Snapchat Spectacles, and they take a more advanced approach to vision with two full-color waveguide lenses. Xiaomi is pushing the envelope with microLED, while Snapchat apparently uses tiny DLP projectors that project into the waveguides. Snapchat was so impressed with its display supplier that it decided in March to buy the company called WaveOptics for $ 500 million.

The Xiaomi Smart Glasses don’t seem to focus very much on the 3D object capabilities – with only one display lens, the glasses cannot display 3D anyway. Snapchat Spectacles, on the other hand, is a true augmented reality platform with two lenses, stereoscopic vision, and 3D placement of virtual objects in the real world based on the wearer’s perspective. Most of Xiaomi’s demo surfaces worked more like Google Glass – a 2D smartwatch-style surface that hangs transparently in your field of view. The only exception was the translation mode, which – just like Word Lens – can place translated text over text in the real world.

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  • The display in (simulated) action. Did we mention it’s solid color? It’s so green.

  • A big problem with AR glasses is that nobody makes AR glasses software, so here is the very sad list of apps. (You can also start from here by grabbing the headset’s Android OS roots.)

    Xiaomi

  • Xiaomi is either good at special effects or this is a working prototype but still here is a watch.

    Xiaomi

  • A call.

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  • A message.

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  • It can do word lens style translation.

    Xiaomi

Software makes a device useful, and a big problem with AR glasses is that there is no AR operating system, app store, or app ecosystem. Xiaomi showed a whopping five functions in the video: notifications, phone calls, maps, photos and translations. There was no app store or developer API to speak of. Xiaomi uses a heavily adapted version of Android for the operating system and the “XiaoAI AI Assistant” for voice control. These are the main ways in which you interact with the glasses.

As with a smartwatch, there are processing functions on board that enable the glasses to “independently carry out functions such as navigation, taking photos, teleprompter and real-time text and photo translations” as well as smartphone pairing to mirror notifications and calls make.

Under the hood, the glasses work with a quad-core ARM processor. There is a touchpad on the side and three buttons on the lower edge of the right arm. What looks like a microphone is cleverly hidden in the nose pad.

Again, it’s hard to say how much of it is real or whether Xiaomi wants to sell a new device. But no pie-in-the-sky concepts are being promoted here. The glasses are actually disappointingly realistic and limited, which leads us to suspect that they really exist somewhere in Xiaomi’s labs.

Promotional video for Xiaomi Smart Glasses.

Offer picture from Xiaomi

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