Xiaomi’s product portfolio, which is arguably one of the largest in the industry, also includes smart speakers, and its latest model is capable of not only controlling smart home appliances but ‘dumb’ ones as well. Xiaomi announced its first Google Assistant-powered smart speaker, the Mi Smart Speaker, in 2020. Prior to that, it had already been selling smart speakers and even smart displays in its home country, although they were powered by its own XiaoAI smart assistant.
A standard smart speaker (or smart display) allows users to control connected smart home accessories and appliances via the onboard voice-based digital assistant. All users have to do is add the accessory or appliance via the dedicated app. For example, the Home app for devices that work with Siri and Google Home for devices that work with the Google Assistant. Once that has been done, users can issue a voice command to operate the device.
This is the way it works for Google Assistant smart devices connected to the new Xiaomi Smart Speaker IR Control. However, Xiaomi has also added support for non-smart accessories and appliances that are operated via an infrared remote control such as air conditioners, air purifiers, and fans. The speaker is able to do this thanks to its built-in IR transmitter. There are four IR sensors at the top of the speaker for 360-degree coverage, so there is no need to position the smart speaker directly in front of the device to be controlled.
To connect a non-smart device with an IR remote control, first pair the smart speaker to the Google Home app. Users will then need to pair the speaker with Xiaomi’s Mi Home app. Similar to the Google Home app, the Mi Home app is also available to download from the Play Store. After setup is complete, an option that reads “Add an IR remote control” should be available. It is then just a matter of choosing from the available options which include TVs, set-top boxes, air conditioners, fans, TV boxes, and lamps. Once a device has been added, users can simply call on the Google Assistant to control it, as if it were a smart device.
In addition to controlling smart and non-smart appliances, the Xiaomi Smart Speaker IR Control also has Chromecast built in for casting audio from supported devices, an LED clock with adaptive brightness, and a DND mode that hides it at preset times. Owners will find the speaker’s controls at the top and they include a microphone mute button. There are also two far-field microphones to pick up commands from across the room. According to Xiaomi, users can pair two speakers together for stereo or pair multiple speakers together across the home.
The Xiaomi Smart Speaker IR Control connects via Bluetooth 5.0 and supports dual-band Wi-Fi. Like its predecessor, it is not battery-powered. Instead, it has to be connected to a wall socket via a 12V DC power adapter. At the moment, the speaker is only available in India for ₹4,999 (~$63). Even though Xiaomi hasn’t revealed wider availability, it is expected to be available in Europe in the near future. Unfortunately, the probability of the Xiaomi Smart Speaker IR Control making it to the US is pretty slim.