Xiaomi Smart Glasses offer glimpse at a phoneless future

The unveiling comes days after Facebook launched its new smartglasses.
The unveiling comes days after Facebook launched its new smartglasses. Photo credit: Supplied

Hot on the heels of Facebook launching its 'Ray-Ban Stories' smartglasses, Xiaomi is inviting us to imagine a future where phones are a thing of the past thanks to its new concept eyewear.

The Chinese electronics company is releasing new products this week including its flagship 11T Pro smartphone, but it's also offered a glimpse of where it sees wearable technology heading in the years to come.

The appropriately named Xiaomi Smart Glasses weigh in at just 51g and are able to display messages and notifications, make calls, navigate maps, capture photos and translate text in front of your eyes.

They use long-lasting MicroLEDs to provide integration with the lens, offering a peak brightness of 2 million nits for its monochrome display - with the video showing a green colour reminiscent of The Matrix.

The company envisages the glasses replacing smartphones but with only a 5MP camera on the front they're not going to be able to take the high-quality photos or videos users have come to expect from premium modern handsets.

However, the built-in dual beamforming microphone and speaker will allow high quality phone calls and, combined with a "proprietary translating algorithm", real-time transcription of audio into text.

A light on the front of the glasses will indicate when the camera is in-use and when photos are being taken. While that will give an indication that users are being recorded, it's unlikely to appease privacy advocates.

Early users of Facebook's Ray-Ban Stories pointed out its indicator light could be simply taped over without impacting functionality, so wearers could then covertly film people without their knowledge.

The social media giant said such action was a beach of its Terms of Service - but without further enforcement, there is no reason for those who wish to remain incognito doing so. One tech journalist recounted spending "the week being a total creeper and recording lots of people who didn't know until I told them".

Xiaomi didn't provide any details of any other privacy features of its Smart Glasses, or whether recording would be prevented if the light is tampered with.

While Facebook's version is limited in 'smart' functionality - users can only listen to music, take calls or capture photos and short videos - they are on sale overseas now, with a future release date in Aotearoa yet to be announced.

The same isn't true of Xiaomi's Smart Glasses. No details other than the concept and look have been revealed, with no timeline given on a potential release date.