(Image: Xiaomi)Xiaomi announced its latest tech wearable—and it may never hit shelves. The company’s new concept, simply called Xiaomi Smart Glasses, appears to exist entirely as a prototype and aims to place a number of smartphone capabilities directly in front of the wearer’s eyes. Xiaomi says its smart glasses use optical waveguide technology to display images like navigation arrows and messages on the lens.
The glasses’ visuals are powered by a 0.13-inch monochrome MicroLED display, which is brighter and more stable than its less costly OLED alternative. “Smaller than a grain of rice,” the display is capable of a 2 million nit output that diffuses across the lens to generate a larger and more practical visual. A Xiaomi spokesperson told The Verge the company went with MicroLED due to its high pixel density, longer lifespan, compact size, and easier screen integration.
At 51 grams, the smart glasses are meant to be independent of the wearer’s smartphone, so they don’t require an ongoing connection with a mobile device. The glasses are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth compatible, feature a five-megapixel camera, and are powered by a quad-core ARM processor.
Though the general concept of AR-integrated smart glasses is cool—who doesn’t want to feel like James-Bond-slash-Tony-Stark while they’re doing their grocery shopping?—the applications associated with Xiaomi’s glasses seem a bit limited. In its announcement, the company only named four capabilities the glasses could possess: calling, text message viewing, navigation, and photo-capturing. (The announcement video also depicts someone using the glasses to translate a restaurant menu, but translation is not actually named as a feature.) For a device Xiaomi claims could potentially replace smartphones, the glasses offer more of a stripped-down experience than a comprehensive one.
Still, Xiaomi’s smart glasses do more than their would-be competitors, Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories and Amazon’s Echo Frames, as neither offer AR capabilities and focus solely on the audio experience. These devices follow in the footsteps of the infamous Google Glass, as well as Snapchat’s Spectacles, which originally could only capture and share 10-second video clips but now offer 3D photo-capturing and AR. Now we just have to see if Xiaomi’s smart glasses ever become a real product.