Chinese tech giant Xiaomi has debuted a new mouse built with a microphone and its XiaoAI voice assistant. Users can control the Xiaomi Mi Smart Mouse operations by voice, without needing to touch the device.
The Mi Smart Mouse, or XiaoAI Mouse, incorporates the XiaoAI voice assistant to give a user a kind of indirect voice control of the computer. The voice assistant can be used to open and close programs, change the volume, and turn the computer off. The AI can also use the computer to answer questions about the time or other info the computer may have readily available. The AI is also primed for smart home device control. The mouse, via a smart home hub on a computer, can adjust temperature and run other smart devices by voice. The voice assistant can also translate from Chinese to Japanese, Korean, and English. There’s no wake word, however. Instead, XiaoAI is activated using a button behind the wheel.
The mouse is really more of a universal controller. It can connect to multiple devices at once using its included receiver or Bluetooth. All it takes is holding down both buttons for three seconds to switch between them, meaning a potentially seamless transition between using the mouse on a computer and a mobile device. A rechargeable battery and USB port remove the need to feed it batteries constantly, and the metal wheel and antibacterial casing are aimed at enabling the mouse to outlast most competitors. The mouse is the result of a crowdfunding campaign that started just last week on Xiaomi’s mobile app, but will be available for retail sale soon for 149 yuan, about $21.
Xiaomi has been rolling out a variety of XiaoAI-powered devices of late. The company revealed its XiaoAI Art Speaker, a metal-bodied, entry-level smart speaker similar to the Apple HomePod in May just a few months after the XiaoAI Touchscreen Pro 8 smart display and a smartwatch likely modeled on the Apple Watch. The company’s voice assistant is also popping up in more peripheral items. At a recent product showcase, Xiaomi demonstrated the inclusion of XiaoAI in its new electric scooter for kids. The voice assistant is specifically there to teach kids how to ride, but parents can set its speakers to play music too.
XiaoAI’s competition is only within China, but the fight for the domestic market is fierce, especially between Xiaomi and Huawei. Still, XiaoAI is being used more and more, according to Xiaomi’s most recent quarterly report. Active monthly users of the voice assistant rose 54.9% to 70.5 million. The value of the new mouse as a smart home controller becomes even more apparent in light of the 252 million devices on the Xiaomi Internet of Things platform, including 4.6 million users with five or more devices on the platform. The next step for Xiaomi may be to look beyond China’s borders for new markets for XiaoAI. The company has already partnered with Dubai-based Emaar Properties to include XiaoAI technology into new smart homes built by the real estate firm. Whether XiaoAI, in mouse form or otherwise, can snag consumers outside of China, remains to be seen.