Xiaomi just announced its Augmented Reality Smart Glasses… and the timing couldn’t be more interesting!

Doesn’t it strike you as odd that Xiaomi would randomly drop such a massive product teaser just a day before Apple’s September event? And hold their own even a day AFTER Apple announced the new iPhone? I’m not an expert analyst, but it seems like they’re trying to beat Apple to the punch, given that a lot of people are expecting Apple to launch their own smart glasses soon. The announcement a day before and the event a day after Apple’s California Streaming event is just Xiaomi’s way of rolling its sleeves up and trying to grab the news cycle by its horns before Apple floods the internet. Moreover, the Smart Glasses also end up firing shots at Facebook, who just announced their own camera-enabled wayfarers with RayBan. Gossip and speculation aside, here’s what the Xiaomi Smart Glasses are all about.

Designed to look like a regular pair of eyewear, Xiaomi’s Smart Glasses actually come with a holographic display built into them. The tiny MicroLED display (which Xiaomi says is smaller than a grain of rice) is built into the temple stem, and reflects a simple UI onto the right eyepiece of the glasses. The specially crafted eyepiece uses a series of microscopic “optical waveguides” to project the display into your eye, allowing only you to see the augmented reality elements when you wear the glasses.

The Smart Glasses come with a rather bare-basics interface, although it’s still incredibly advanced for its time (not to mention the fact that Xiaomi managed to fit all this technology into a ridiculously slim piece of eyewear). The holographic display can display messages, alerts, notifications, and time, although Xiaomi’s most impressive flex was showcasing a live translate feature, that took an English food menu and overlaid the Chinese translations on top of it. Aside from the MicroLED holographic display, the Smart Glasses also come with a camera lens that captures the world around you, allowing you to not just take pictures, but also analyze images and text. Whether all that live translation and processing power happens within the spectacles themselves is yet to be determined, although we can expect much more information on the 15th, when Xiaomi holds its product event.

For now, the Smart Glasses are just a concept teaser with no price, no tech specs, and no foreseeable launch date.

Facebook just filed a patent for a baseball cap with a built-in AR headset and it looks terribly cringe

This is an opinion piece. All views expressed in this article belong to me, the editor.

I don’t believe in punching down. As the editor of a pretty well-to-do design magazine, it makes little sense to call out individual designers and students over their work. I do, however, believe in being able to hold larger companies and billion-dollar OEMs to a different standard. There is power in being able to critique designs and help the world understand what’s measurably good and what isn’t… which is why I think it’s alright to sometimes critically look at Apple’s Cheesegrater Mac, the Tesla Cybertruck, or in this case, Facebook’s AR Baseball Cap which is frankly ugly enough to make Google Glass look cutting-edge.

Outlined in a patent filed back in 2019, and spotted just this week by Founders Legal, it looks like Facebook’s working on a more accessible AR headset that can be worn everyday, anywhere. The AR headset exists as a snapback-style cap (although there’s a fedora version too) with a flip-to-open display built into its visor. Facebook describes the design for its forward-thinking headgear as an alternative to traditional AR headsets and goggles that can often appear thick and clunky. In doing so, instead of opting for a more sci-fi design, Facebook believes that integrating the headgear into something like a cap or hat that people wear around every day, is a much better solution. I don’t know about you, but I can’t help cringing at the very thought of a sci-fi fedora. In fact, Facebook even indicates that this foldable display system can easily integrate into different cap styles, including potentially even (and this was actually referenced in the patent file) cowboy hats.

Gizmodo writes: It might look extremely silly, but in its patent filing Facebook says there are some notable advantages of a design like this. It makes it easier to position potentially hot electronics farther away from someone’s face, thereby increasing overall comfort and wearability. The length of the visor also makes it easy for Facebook to position AR components like cameras, sensors, etc. It sounds practical in theory, but looks far from aesthetic if you ask me for my completely subjective opinion. The idea of having to wear a cap so that I can access AR functions seems odd. Not to mention the fact that casualwear and cutting-edge tech don’t necessarily go hand in hand. It’s an incredibly delicate tightrope when you’re walking between tech and fashion – Apple’s excelled in this domain, Google’s had a few hits and misses. I don’t think Facebook’s got this one in the bag.

With news about Apple working on AR glasses, it would almost seem like the sensible move to adopt that direction too. More than 70% of all adults wear glasses as opposed to probably the 20-ish percent who wear baseball caps and fedoras on a daily basis. That’s discounting the fact that an even smaller number of people actually wear caps indoors. Besides, I really don’t know if there’s any data on how many people want cyberpunkish fedoras with built-in AR displays. Those numbers are yet to be collected.

Images Credits: Andrew Bosworth (Facebook Technologies, LLC.)

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